I was amazed and at the same time I felt it was ridiculous: in my first shot at the West I was seeing to what absurd devices it had fallen to keep its proud tradition.”

This quote by Jack Kerouac is a good subsumption of my book on the cowboy. Over the course of 1,5 years I took numerous trips around the United States to photograph the cowboy. In my photographic investigation I was not much interested in the historic facts and figures about the era of the cowboy. My focus was on how the myth of the cowboy and the set of socio-cultural values that comes along with it surfaces in present-day America. How is the myth of the cowboy interpreted and impersonated by contemporary Americans?

There is a strong duality between the “proud tradition” and the “absurd devices” or in other words the authentic and the mythic, the real and the fake, the contemporary and the nostalgic. With the book I am exploring this scale from proud tradition to absurd devices: from the contemporary working cowboys - people who use the skills of the cowboy in working with ranch animals to earn their living - to the weekend/dress-up/performance cowboys - people who celebrate the cowboy myth on weekends by putting on cowboy gown and spending time at arenas, bars and fairs.

Further more cowboy signs and signifiers can be found throughout America. The signs and signifiers are the tool with which the myth gets perpetuated. They serve as a means of remembrance and often take on a life of their own.

The book is made up of 78 photographs organized into four interleaving chapters: the working cowboy, signs and signifiers of the myth, the weekend cowboy and a section of portraits.

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