Cowboy is third in a series of installments by Stefano Galli –after the photographic series Cars, and the documentary film Lamerica— that embodies his fascination with the US, and an attempt to reconcile romantic ideas of America as an outsider with quotidian life in California.
The series captures one of the most quintessentially American cultural icons — the cowboy.
Generally associated with a spirit of individualism, rugged masculinity, and free will, yet morally ambivalent, the cowboy is a microcosm of the American psyche.
Galli’s impressionistic images from the fast moving, colorful rodeos are able to communicate before being understood — the viewer hears the pounding of horses hooves, the braying of the calves, the rage of the bulls, the sound of the lasso whipping through the air and the howl of pain from a cowboy who was catapulted to the ground, trying to catch the 8-second ride.
Galli pushes his film in order to achieve longer exposure times, taking images into a more surreal dimension. His images portray the cowboy as a romantic figure; a hard-working man’s man performing hazardous, enduring stunts.
Similar to ‘Cars’ and ‘Lamerica’, Galli turns the camera away from the polished streets of Santa Monica and Beverly Hills to focus our attention on a rich sub-culture that gathers in dusty, desolate areas to perform dangerous feats for just a fistful of dollars.
Text by Sari Thayer