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Artwork of the Week

Artwork of the Week: Cadillac Town Car

cadillac town car.jpg
Patrick Nagatani (1945-2017), 'Cadillac Town Car, The Great Gallery, Horseshoe Canyon, Utah, U.S.A.,' 1992/2001, toned gelatin silver print, Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Garrett Gunderson, 2021.

As a professor of photography at the University of New Mexico, Patrick Ryoichi Nagatani created a remarkable body of work that drew on techniques of photography, collage, and research to examine the atomic history and radioactive life of the American Southwest (Nuclear Enchantment, 1988-1993) and the unsettling between past and present in Excavations (1985-2001).

'Cadillac Town Car, The Great Gallery, Horseshoe Canyon, Utah, U.S.A.' stems from Nagatani’s Excavations project, which featured automobiles ostensibly found near ancient sites (such as a Bentley near Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England) or areas of recent history (a Toyota near Manzanar in Inyo County, California). What looks like a self-evident picture of a Cadillac Town Car (1933) being unearthed in front of The Great Gallery of Horseshoe Canyon, Utah—an archaeologically important site of ancient pictographs—is actually an anachronistic pairing that speaks to the rich tradition of creative editing, alteration, and manipulation in the history of photography. By marshaling the established language, conventions, and accouterments of research—such as excavation photographs and diary entries—to substantiate the fictional figure of Ryoichi, an archaeologist invented by Nagatani who excavated these cars, the artist sought to “layer the elements we accept as scientific record to construct an alternate reading of the past, and alternative stratigraphy of truth and illusion.”

Past Artworks of the Week

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'The Raising of Lazarus' by Rembrandt

July 15, 2024
Artwork of the Week: July 15, 2024
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'The Visitation' by Käthe Kollwitz

July 08, 2024
Artwork of the Week: July 8, 2024
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'End of a June Day' by Mahonri Young

July 01, 2024
Artwork of the Week: July 1, 2024
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