A place far away somewhere in Costa Rica. A place that exists somewhere between paradise and progress. People go there to preserve the land, preserve themselves, but who's preserving the soul? Who's taking care of the heartbeat? To me that was very unclear. There, with 40 people all looking to relax, get stoned, get drunk, surf – the usual holiday business. But I was looking for some soul – that feeling of being immersed in something, of being reminded that you're small and the world is big. Instead of checking out, I wanted to check in, yet it seemed no one could get inside. You were a tourist, relegated to being a spectator on the outside.
The only time I felt a reminder of divinity, was in something unexpected – cows. They were mythical, beautiful, alien, soulful. It was in them that I found my inspiration, my mission.
Stuart and Dorothea were on the same wavelength and acted as my partners in crime. Stuart is a cinematographer by trade and by looking at his work you can imagine his world which is more beautiful than most. Dorothea is a model/artist/actor who understands beauty differently – she will contort, dance, and hurl herself into rough fields, all for the sake of emotional enchantment. The three of us set out on our journey to create and feel something.
Dorothea and I packed some clothes in case we wanted to do any extra shooting while Stuart grabbed his camera. We squeezed onto a four-wheeler in the hot sun and went looking for some cows. The ultimate goal was to find Dorothea's bovine counterpart and shoot the two of them standing together in all their naked glory. We found a cow field and trespassed through a fence before we realized something – where there are cows, there are bulls. Shit. We didn't want her to get trampled, and were unsure of the proper herd etiquette, so we decided to abort that leg of the mission and instead find a lone cow walking nearby.
We kept on down a small road and found some beautiful light on an open field that inspired some spontaneity. All of us hopped onto the field and I mumbled something about séance dancing as a reference. Dorothea quickly changed on the side of the road and proceeded to get wild. It was amazing to see this statue of a woman dancing to silence in a field, moving exactly how I had envisioned and becoming Stuart’s muse.
Once that shot was finished, we continued down the path and happened onto an abandoned motorcycle. Stuart fell in love with the bike – it was his cow. We quickly changed Dorothea again when all of the sudden a wild white horse started walking towards us. We started whispering to it, trying to get it to come closer. Strangely enough, it worked and the horse cautiously walked toward us. Dorothea was already wearing a pair of leather dungarees and so, very quickly, she tried to strip them off and stand next to the horse. He started leaving, which prompted Dorothea and Stuart to follow – running, walking, struggling to disrobe, and attempting to shoot. The horse was only slightly willing to participate so we ran with it to the ocean.
Once the horse had had enough of us, we realized that we had stumbled into another patch of gorgeous light. One more outfit change for a shot with a branch near the water before we finally returned to Stuart's bike. The entire afternoon was spent like this: looking for one thing but allowing the opportunity to open our eyes to others.
After this go-with-the-flow, vibe-it-out afternoon, a terrible thing happened: cow bedtime. Apparently, right before sunset, the farmers herd the cows back to their beds. We missed it – one wild horse, one abandoned motorcycle, but no cows.
Taking a moment to reflect on what we had done that day, I came to terms with the fact the day wasn’t about what I had planned or expected, but that it was a day spent being present and reactive to the land and the people I was with.
We all hopped back on the four-wheeler and went to the ocean near our hotel. The day ended with Dorothea and Stuart in the ocean at sunset, dancing once again and only then could we could stop. We were all satisfied with what the journey had given us. We found some soul. We made something together.
I still dream about going back to create the original image I had in my head, but as with all kinds of creativity, staying satisfied is its death – wanting more is the drive.
All clothing vintage from Edith Machinist.
Photographer: Stuart Winecoff
Styling & Art Direction: Brianna Lance
Model: Dorothea Barth-Jorgensen