Artist Statement Submitted 2014
Theater of War: The Pretend Villages of Iraq and Afghanistan?I have been making photographs within fictitious Iraqi and Afghan villages on the training grounds of U.S. Army bases, places largely unknown to most Americans. The villages are situated in the deep forests of North Carolina and Louisiana, with some villages located just yards from former Civil War battlefields. The villages serve as a strange and poignant way station for people heading off to war and for those who have fled it. U.S. soldiers interact with pretend villagers who are often recent immigrants from Iraq and Afghanistan, who have now found work in the American South playing a version of the lives they left behind. The remainder of the village population is drawn from the local communities near the bases, including spouses of active duty soldiers as well as military veterans of America’s wars in Vietnam and Korea, some of whom are amputees and who play the part of wounded villagers in their new identities.
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