Human Destiny: Prints
'Human Destiny' states the title of a book by Lecomte du Nouy. The book is pictured slotted into a rack, with other books, at a thrift store in the town of Truth or Consequences in New Mexico. I don't remember seeing the book when I took the photograph. It is only upon it being revealed on film that I have really become aware of it. The woman who looks out from the frame is enchanting. All arrows point to Human destiny. I have since read the book by du Nouy and found it illuminating.
Truth or Consequences
I have long been drawn to this remarkably named town in the desert of New Mexico. I first saw it in a marvellous book by Wim Wenders called, 'Written in the West.' This book contains some of my most beloved images.
In 'Written in the West', there are four photographs in sequence that struck me as soon as I saw them:
25. Club, Douglas, Arizona
26. Interior, Douglas Arizona
27. "Another Negro Slain by the Mob", Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
28. "Hot Springs", Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
The curtains pictured on the first photograph, of the Cowbelles club frontage, have unusual symbols rendered in bold black.
The second photograph shows variants of these kind of symbols pictured on an earth coloured wall inside the building. These ones are more clustered and gridlike. They include letter and number configurations allied with delineated symbols. One such configuration reads 'K/G', another, 'KEE'. Most are not this clearly identifiable to my perception.
The third photograph shows a carefully arranged collage of newspaper cuttings that someone has placed over a window, covering the glass. One headline reads, 'The End of Camelot', another, 'To Hell with High Prices'.
The fourth picture shows a seemingly eternal elderly gentlemen in a white stetson and blue jeans standing beside a mural on the sun-bleached wall of a street in Truth or Consequences. A painted sign above him reads, 'Texas Motel', down the street one sign reads, 'Barber Shop', another, 'Books'.
I was immediately drawn to these places by Wim Wenders' photographs and was filled with yearning. Some ten years after first seeing these photographs I, at last, set out for Truth or Consequences. I didn't consult Wender's book specifically before I left but had what I thought was the picture in my mind. It is only now as I am writing this that I have realised that I had melded the four photographs by Wender's into one distinct image and believed it to be in Truth or Consequences. I can still see it in my mind.
A whitewashed wall with deep black symbols, arrows entwined in circles, zig-zags and parrallel lines, letters attached to numbers, appearing as a code that perhaps desires nor requires deciphering, painted clearly and definitely, covering the frame, each sign in clearly defined and tightly ordered space. It was in Truth or Consequences and I had to seek it out.
'Human Destiny' is the central photograph of the journey I made in 2008, 'In Between and Either Side of Truth or Consequences.' The image called to me through time and memory to seek it out and present it.
UPDATE: April 2018, I have discovered what these symbols are; cattle ranch brands. I would guess that the 'brands' painted on the wall in Wenders' photograph are decorative, having been created through the visual language of branding . To the right is a list of cattle ranch brands associated with the 'Cowbelles' (a women's ranching association) in Arizona.
At certain points during the journey I wrote down my thoughts and things about what I had experienced and seen. These were transcribed in the book between the photographs I had taken and presented chronologically.