a visual ethnography exploring Marfa, Texas
Part of a multisensory thesis project. From Christopher Columbus’ colonialist “discovery” of America in 1492, to Thomas Jefferson’s dispatching of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to explore the West in the early 1800s, the idea of “going west” has been part of the American consciousness. Employing numerous Cultural Studies methodologies, I’ve drawn upon historic discourse analysis, cultural ethnography, creative nonfiction writing, photography, and critical theory to explore the aftereffects of artist Donald Judd’s influence on the town. I argue that Donald Judd’s move from New York City to Marfa reflects a reverberated desire for the modern American to go west and experience a unique “freedom” that the myth of the western landscape offers. Using Patricia Nelson Limerick’s concept of the “newest new West” and Walter Benjamin’s notion of the Angel of History, I illuminate the ways in which modern experiences of Marfa echo the past.