Looking West, by Laurence Watts, is a photographic work that examines performative masculinity in Australian Rodeo subculture and the iconography of the Cowboy. It aims to destabilise notions of masculine identity by revealing its construction through social performance. The work is underpinned by a semi-narrative throughline of ‘searching for the cowboy’. This search finds that long after the West has been won, and the Frontier closed, the Cowboy exists as a set of visual cultural ideals through which masculinity is articulated in Rodeo sub-culture, utilising the sartorial codes of the Western hat, boots, shirt and belt buckle.
A portrait from the series was nominated for the 2018 Iris Award, and select images have been featured in Nexus Magazine and the Melbourne Milieu broadsheet publication, as well as in the Centre for Contemporary Photography’s Salon exhibition.
Looking West will be exhibited in a major solo show at the Perth Centre for Photography in March 2019, coupled with a photobook publication of the series.
Artist Bio — Laurence Watts (b. 1989, London, UK) is a Photographer based in Melbourne, Australia. He completed a Bachelor of English & Philosophy at the University of Western Australia in 2015, teaching himself photography in his spare time. In 2018, Watts completed his Honours thesis in Photography at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT). Watts’ work is primarily concerned with examining cultural existence and the processes through which identities emerge within the public sphere, formed by social histories and discourses. His photography seeks outs visual threads that can be unraveled to reveal the forces and dynamics that structure cultural life. Watts has exhibited throughout Australia and abroad. His 2015 series Notes from a Country Town was published in London- based quarterly Negative Feedback. Watts was nominated for the Perth Centre for Photography’s 2016 Iris Award for Portraiture. His latest work is Looking West, which was completed as the major project for his Honours degree. The work explores performative masculinity in Australian Rodeo subculture and the iconography of the Cowboy.
Exhibition / Book Launch Details Dates:
9th March – 6th April 2019
Opening Night: Friday 8th March
Perth Centre for Photography King Street Art Centre
357 Murray St
Perth, Western Australia
Sponsored by RMIT School of Art