I’ve always felt an interest in counter-cultures, and an invitation to be a part of things — a belonging — when I set out to study and capture them. Exotic World was a pageant held in Helendale, California in the early 90s, started by Dixie Evans, a 66 year old burlesque dancer in her own right. Helendale itself is a bizarre landscape: Big sky country and aired desert plateaus mix with huge man-made lakes and architectural artifice, like a looming twenty foot high white plastic heart set in the middle of a deserted droughted-out cactus field, ominous sky overhead.
This project is a diary exploring the human body in dialogue with, and butting up against, these environments of nature and artifice. White costume feathers blend into clouds in the vast sky, a dog howls during a staged strip-tease show. I wanted the viewer to have their own relationship and fill it in — is it the contestant’s story or the spectator’s? Sometimes just the contestant’s legs or the swinging of her beads became the main character. For me these stories held mystery and seemed to be able to go in any direction — down a dark path of voyeurism, or through a magic door