"While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see." Dorothea Lange
My visually formative childhood years were spent on the far Westside of Albuquerque New Mexico on a remote Air Force radar station in the midst of a desolate landscape. This station was but a few hundred yards from the old Route 66. The expansive horizon in all directions led me to an appreciation of space and solitude. The extreme austerity of the weather instructed me in the value of shelter and storms. The proximity of Route 66 gave me the urge to wander.
The entrance to our little compound was marked by thirty foot tall arrows advertising a nearby pueblo style Route 66 curio shop decorated with gaudy paintings of dancing Indians, cacti and lizards. This little tourist trap was my initiation into the haute architectural mysteries of what is now called "Santa Fe Style".
Never bored, my older brother Kent and I spent every free minute exploring the desert landscape, catching rattlesnakes and tarantulas, and filling our minds with fantasies of mock Indian raids on unsuspecting tourists.
A little to the west of our compound along the arid banks of the Rio Puerco were the ruins of a small Anasazi village. To the east were the inscription covered volcanoes of what is now Petroglyph National Monument. These sites haunted my imagination with visions of buried artifacts, ancient rituals and exotic cultures.
Thus was born my lifelong photographic interest in the architecture, cultural artifacts and the historic/prehistoric landscapes of the Southwest. In short I am obsesed with the Cultural Landscape of the SW. A cultural landscape, as defined by the World Heritage Committee, is the "cultural properties [that] represent the combined works of nature and of man."
"I have always found the greatest sense of presence in abandoned and unpopulated places. This feeling of "presence" comes upon me even in places that have no obvious evidence of past or current occupation. It is a great irony to me that places which feel so desperately lonely are also where I feel the most alive." Kirk Gittings 2009
What I love most about New Mexico and the Southwest is it's deep rich past. I have walked old Native American trails, the Chaco roads, the Camino Real and Santa Fe Trails. I sense that, wherever I walk, I step in the footprints of Pueblo Indians, Spanish Friars, Conquistadors or U.S. Cavalry. It is the lingering patina of these personae, and the gods they prayed to, that lies behind the sense of presence that I try to evoke in my images.
The images in this web site are culled from 42 years of my photography. Through this photography I have struggled to illuminate the extraordinary visual richness and emotional depth of New Mexico and the
Southwest as embodied in both its ancient and modern cultural and architectural artifacts.
by Kirk Gittings
"Our job is to record, each in his own way, this world of light and shadow and time that will never come again exactly as it is today." Ed Abbey
In New Mexico, Kirk Gittings is represented by Sara Smith Contemporary www.sarasmithcontemporary.com/gittings/index.htm
(The top image is "Lost Horizons: The Playground" on the Nine Mile Hill west of Albuquerque, New Mexico near where I grew up, photographed in 1978. It is a good example of the "landscape" I experienced as a child, which has informed my later landscape photography. The bottom image is "Window on the Cabezon Shrine, from the Guadalupe Outlier". Guadalupe is a butte visible from our West Mesa home. The ruin in the foreground was part of the extended Chaco Anasazi culture, (photographed in 1988). This image is an iconic example of my approach to historic and pre-historic architectural photography, as it returns to and integrates into the land.