Traveling through the High Plains of Oklahoma instills an immediate sense of loneliness. The very nature of this landscape cannot hide the abandoned homes and dying communities that have long plagued this part of the country. Flea markets are in abundance, offering a clear sign of the future for towns located in what is geographically referred to as No Man’s Land.
Ravaged during the Dust Bowl, the panhandle of Oklahoma was the epicenter of one of the worst man-made disasters in American history. With great pride, the affected communities bounced back, becoming stronger and rebuilding sustainable farmland. But as the generations have passed, the reasons to stay have become fewer, causing many of these towns to once again find a communion with the dust.
The photographs in this series explore the myth of No Man’s Land. A land that during certain years was an unsustainable environment — spurring the violent uprooting of whole families and small towns — while in other years has produced record crop yields. It is a place that holds the heavy weight of history and tall tales. Legendary cowboys and outlaws have roamed through the High Plains of Oklahoma — the ghosts of the past becoming more intriguing than the realities of the present. And while the old tales and rough exterior may tell one side of the story, another can be found in the rare glimpse of ephemeral beauty that exists in this complicated land.
Antone Dolezal is a New Mexico based photographer and writer. He is a member of the new media collective Finite Foto, and his writing has appeared in various photographic publications including photo-eye Magazine and Fraction. Antone received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Santa Fe University of Art and Design in 2006.
So happy to see my dear friend Antone featured on Urbanautica today! Also can’t wait to go to his show here in Santa Fe this Friday!