Kenyon College
 

Simulating Iraq series

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Claire Beckett
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Claire Beckett (b. 1978)

Marine Lance Corporal Nicole Camala Veen playing the role of an Iraqi nurse in the town of Wadi Al-Sahara, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, CA. 2008.

Archival inkjet print. 40 x 30 inches.

Courtesy of the Artist and Carroll and Sons, Boston.

 

Army Specialist Gary McCorkle playing the role of “Jibril Ihsan Hamal,” a key member of the leading terrorist group in town, Islamic Army of Iraq, with an IED, Medina Wasl Village, National Training Center, Fort Irwin, CA. 2009.

Archival inkjet print. 40 x 30 inches.

Courtesy of the Artist and Carroll and Sons, Boston.

 

Jabal Village Mosque, National Training Center, Fort Irwin, CA. 2009.

Archival inkjet print. 40 x 30 inches.

Courtesy of the Artist and Carroll and Sons, Boston.

 

Army Specialists John Griffin playing the role of “Muhsin Talib Faihan,” and Bobby Kirby playing the role of “Imitithal Ibrahim,” members of the Madhi Army, a paramilitary Shi’a group founded by Muqtada al-Sadr, responsible for small arms attacks, suicide vests, and kidnapping, Medina Wasl Village, National Training Center, Fort Irwin, CA. 2009.

Archival inkjet print. 40 x 30 inches.

Courtesy of the Artist and Carroll and Sons, Boston.

 

Army Specialist Gary Louis Sims playing the role of “Safah Mehdi Faris,” a 21-year old terrorist and member of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Medina Wasl Village, National Training Center, Fort Irwin, CA. 2008.

Archival inkjet print. 40 x 30 inches.

Courtesy of the Artist and Carroll and Sons, Boston.

 

The photographs in Simulating Iraq series were taken as Claire Beckett’s three year “embedded artist” tour of U.S. military training centers, notably Fort Irwin in California, where model Iraqi and Afghan settlements are fabricated and utilized by soldiers for training exercises. Some military personnel and U.S. civilians play the roles of Iraqi or Afghani citizens or enemy combatants during these exercises. Wearing traditional clothing and adopting Middle Eastern names, they populate plywood-model mosques and shipping container markets. The result is a bizarre alternate reality the blurs the line between foreign and familiar. Beckett’s photographs are straightforward portraits and still lifes, but the incongruity between setting and subject, play and reality, demands further untangling. Beckett suggests that performative activities such as war have many components, and that participating in such performances can reflect on the actor’s concept of self. Her photographs ask the viewer to avoid familiar cultural markers and reexamine the way we perceive the identity of those around us.

Maddie Gobbo ’12

Post-Baccalaureate Curatorial Intern

 
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