Confluence, Fragments and Urban Ghosts (book)
Publication 2012 to accompany Brighton Photo Fringe Exhibition
Tales of place, Tucson, Arizona (2011) – the work of Phil Taylor
Phil Taylor’s latest body of work looks at Tucson, Arizona, through the lens of his camera, along the point of his pencil, tracking it into the blogosphere. The resulting investigation into the identity of this arid place explores classic frontier narratives as they have been told and retold. Taylor draws inspiration from Cormac McCarthy’s Western novel Blood Meridian (1985) that bites through the myth-making nostalgia of many frontier narratives. Moved by the evocative visual descriptions of the landscape that punctuate the book, Taylor was motivated to learn more about the real life events it features. Towards the end of 2011 he spent three months in Tucson, a journey equally geographical, historical and creative. Blood Meridian informed where he went, six locations were identified and archival research connected each one with a history that Taylor draws out through his work.
Through photography, drawing and writing Taylor has explored a complex sense of place that has, curiously, one foot in the past and one in the present. Contemporary events and sites in Tucson are investigated from Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead), to gun shows, the railroad network, to the Aircraft Boneyard, from Native American reservations to signage and the Barrio (the free zone). Taylor produces powerful tales of place where many have projected desolation and sadness; he illustrates abandonment, erosion and neglect alongside survival, imagination and presence. Through the juxtaposition of McCarthy’s text with Taylor’s imagery and archival findings we are encouraged to reflect upon how we construct our understanding of people and place and to rediscover the Wild in the West.
Nicola Ashmore Visual Artist and Lecturer in the History of Art and Design