These photographs were made on the eroding sets and locations of Sergio Leone’s celebrated 1960s “spaghetti Westerns,” deep in the Almerian deserts of southern Spain. For several years, I have pursued work concerned with the propagation of American myths abroad, as well as notions of how the “American vision” has been applied to landscapes and cultures throughout the world. Recently, I became fascinated by the notion that a fundamental American archetype—the Wild West, and its associations with freedom, rebelliousness, brutality, morality, honor, and so on—had been transposed by an Italian film director onto the landscape of Franco’s Spain, and subsequently came to define this “quintessentially American” genre in itself. Furthermore, I was particularly interested in trying to discover what these sets—flimsy, worn, and weathered, but still standing forty years on—might insinuate about the state of America, its ideals, reputation, ambitions, visions, and illusions today.
Aaron Schuman is an American photographer and writer based in the United Kingdom. He received a B.F.A. from New York University and an M.A. from the University of London’s London Consortium. He has exhibited his work internationally and contributes to Aperture, Foam, ArtReview, Modern Painters, HotShoe, Creative Review, The Face, The Guardian, The Observer, and The Sunday Times. He is a Research Fellow and Senior Lecturer at the Arts Institute at Bournemouth, a Lecturer at the University of Brighton, and is founding editor of SeeSaw Magazine.