Wild West of the East
by Michael Joseph

project STATEMENT

In August of 1960, Norman Mailer drove from his home in Provincetown, Massachusetts to the home of John Kennedy in Hyannis. Jacqueline Kennedy asked Mailer what Provincetown was like. “It’s the Wild West of the East,” he replied. Mailer also described Provincetown as the last democratic town in America where everyone was absolutely equal. Set on the tip of Cape Cod, Provincetown is as mutable as the changing seasonal landscape. Wild West of the East is a street portrait series that examines the people of Provincetown, made in real time in public.

From a space where the Pilgrims first landed, to a Portuguese fishing village, to an artist’s colony, and now a LGBTQ+ community, Provincetown has always been transformative. It is a found Neverland where the concept of “play” is encouraged, and the confines of society are stripped away. The town’s sense of freedom is creative, sexual, and exploratory. As one states, “It’s a place of exploration, of identity, and a place that has allowed me to be more fully alive. I’ve painted my face 100 different ways walking into town and I’ve finally found a place where freaks like me are supposed to be.”

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