Fool's Gold: Volume I
A volumed photobook series about prospecting beauty in the landscape.
A promise of possibility has become myth in a vast expanse of land rich with natural resources and existential opportunity. The landscape speaks to the dissatisfaction of the rugged and strong-willed. Progress almost always requires staking new claims. Our extractions have realized big dreams and produced ineffable nightmares, as failure outweighs success here. This is a scarred landscape so often veiled by a resplendent golden light and the indifference of nature.
I began this project in 2006 and in 2012 entered a conversation with Daylight Books to at last realize the project in its originally conceived format. The production costs are significant and with your help, it can happen!
-Jesse Chehak November 2012
Born in Tarzana, California, Jesse Chehak studied large format photography and Art History at Sarah Lawrence College. He lived in New York from 1998-2009, Santa Fe, New Mexico until late 2011, and is currently based in Tucson and Los Angeles. He is a MFA candidate at the University of Arizona 2015.
Chehak has received notable attention for his work, including PDN30 in 2005, The Magenta Foundation's Flash Forward in 2007, a Baum Nomination in 2008, and AP25.
Excerpt of the Introduction by Poet Chris Martin
The sun is setting. This happens so often. Dust in your hands. Hawk on the air. The sun setting slowly. Something new knotting stiff. Grass between her lips. Meat on the road. The sun falling down. It forms an emotion. A shape to fill. Dark on the hills. But hills don’t think. Cars afar humming low. The radio more broken. The sun nearly set. You walk inside it. No one squinting after. This will not end.
The past, they say, is under our feet. It is what holds everything up. That is why we cannot get to it. The future, on the other hand, is always available. See that old sign out there? It’s face offers the presence of this moment. What you don’t see of that sign—its obverse side, the contour of a bullet hole, minor erosions from the wind—that is the future. All you have to do is get there. Pick a moment, any moment.
There are layers of looking here: out, across, in. A vast beauty seems to rest within the edge of this ruin. That mountain explains it, explaining nothing. This dead thing in the gravel: fascinating, abject, mute. We don’t ask a mountain to explain itself. When the object here rusts, it becomes more familiar. When the woman on the bed turns to face the drawn motel curtain, we understand the landscape. It moves again.
What is it that brought you here? Who is it that left you here? How is it he came to be familiar with these parts? Sun cuts down the fissure’s blond weft. Could it be told why the people here don’t leave? Kneel in the dirt and smell its manner of travel. Are these parts a whole of some kind? We came this way to get to somewhere else. The Coke machine sniffed at by coyotes. We come here whenever we pass through.
There must have been a voice out here. Something to vibrate in the dust. A rattle, a tongue. How does one fill a space like this? Certainly not with thought. A man that thinks into a hill is a fool. Rust, butts, puddles of oil: these are manners of thought. Because now there are roads here and places to eat, to fill up. But that’s just us. The only thing that gets full here is the moon. Or this ashtray on the motel window sill.
His tombstone is cardboard. Railroad tracks that wander. Someone kicking something besides. I met him once. One horse or another. A chorus of crows. I miss it less. Then more again later. Turn around before sunrise. The sun actually boiling. He was blowing smoke. A little bit deadlier. Catchin’ and cookin’ it. The semis simmering black. We lost everything once. Coming across another arrowhead.
$100 Level: Primm, Nevada, signed 5"x4" archival pigment print: ed. of 100.
$250 Level: Near Three Rivers, California, signed 10"x8" archival pigment print: ed. of 25
$1000 Level: Three signed 10"x8" analog c-prints (printed NYC 2010) from the gallery edition (your choice from 25)
$2500 Level: Signed 50"x40" LVT mural print from the gallery edition (your choice from 6 options)