For the past nine years Karoliina Paatos has been following two girls growing up on a remote, family owned cattle ranch in Nevada. Home schooling, helping with ranch chores, riding, roping, and playing mostly by themselves, fills their days. On weekends they compete in junior rodeos.
Calfs are born into the snow, dust is so fine you can see insect tracks. It takes hours to reach a grocery store. Here both people and plants are few and far apart to gather the needs for their sustenance.
“Draught, high land prices and changes happening in the cattle industry are making this lifestyle nearly impossible to continue as it has been. I want to see the change through the lives of these two cowboy girls. My journey continues alongside them into their adulthood.”
Romance and harshness is branded in the visual image of a cowboy. The prevailing idea is still a lonesome twenty-something man moving from one camp to another whereas the artist’s cowboys are two girls growing up into this very masculine world. As Paatos states, “I want to get close to the people I follow. I live long periods of time on the ranches and help with the chores. I don’t become invisible but I became part of their everyday life.”
Karoliina Paatos is a photographer and artist living in Rovaniemi who works mainly in Finland and in the USA. She published her first monograph American Cowboy in 2016. For the past fourteen years Paatos has been covering subjects all over the world for the biggest magazines and newspapers in Finland. Paatos has graduated from Aalto University’s MA program in Photography and Documentary Film and University of Arizona’s MFA program. Paatos frequently exhibits her work in solo and group shows and publications both in Finland and abroad.
The exhibition was supported by the Finnish Cultural Foundation and VISEK.