The Push West
Monument Valley, Utah, USA - 2022
Large – 56” x 102” Unframed, 71” x 117” Framed – Edition of 12
Standard - 37” x 68” Unframed, 52” x 83” Framed - Edition of 12
I think one of the reasons that the Final Frontier holds such a fascination for many of us, is that “The Great Push West” serves as a metaphor for the trials of life. The American West has become a standard by which to measure human endeavour and has an allure because we all warm to stories of the underdog or those that live sturdy lives. There has never been a richer cast of tough underdogs than there was at The Final Frontier and the territory plays to the romanticist.
Thanks to filmmakers such as John Ford, much of the Wild West story was played out against the grand majesty of South West America. The vast monoliths in places such as Monument Valley afforded an extra layer of narrative as the enormity of the landscape added further to the sense of human isolation and vulnerability.
The concept of this picture has been in my mind for as long as I have been working on our revisionist anthology to the Wild West. I just needed to find the location that offered grandeur, depth and, most importantly, raised elevation in the foreground. This takes time.
But finally, thanks to our Navajo location scouts, Cisco and Bega Metzner of the Moab Film Commission, we found this point on the edge of Monument Valley and somehow our cowboys managed to get the horses and wagon down onto the desert floor below. I fancy that was a first.
This is Navajo country and we have great respect for the community living there. The Navajo Tribe is the largest American Indian tribe in the United States today, with 175,000 members alone living within their vast reservation. I wanted our lead in this picture to be sovereign and considered, rather than aggressive. We are alive to the fact that The Great Push West was not about discovery, but about “encounters”. Discovery hints at virginal land and, of course, nothing could be further from the truth.
~ David Yarrow