The four photographs displayed in Dena Yago’s recent show “Heck & The Divested Set” were shot by the artist in Pioneertown, a fake western frontier outpost conceived and built by Hollywood investors and production designers in the 1940s to serve as both a TV/film set and temporary housing for actors and crew members. A rusty town bell atop a wooden facade in Pioneertown, 2015 (Bell); a close-up of a brittle leather saddle in Pioneertown, 2015 (Saddle); a rickety wagon, long abandoned, in Pioneertown, 2015 (Wheel); and a slouching windmill with faded signage in Pioneertown, 2015 (Windmill) (all works 2016) were all unspectacularly rendered. But these props of the western genre also allude to another seminal chapter in American cultural history: the photographic documentation of westward expansion that helped survey and commodify vast swaths of uncharted territory while consolidating
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