Jen Bekman Projects

 

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Nina Berman :: images | statement | bio | press release   | press mentions  



artist statements: :: Nina Berman | Homeland

These images are from a series I have been working on since 9-11 called Homeland. The images address issues of militarism, security and identity in contemporary America.

I embarked on the series to make sense of my own confusion over the words patriotism and security.

Why did I wake up some mornings feelings anxious, wondering whether or not to take the subway?

Was I being manipulated? Was my fear a genuine concern? Is my country my protector or my deceiver?

I set out to discover and in my explorations I saw Air force bombers entertaining sunbathers on summer weekends; high schools taken over by the Department of Defense as a solution offered communities desperate for school funding; frequent simulation drills costing millions of dollars and involving thousands of participants where various war scenarios are imagined; recruitment scenarios where young children are transformed into smiling would-be killers.

Some of these events have the look and feel of state sponsored performance art, where realism is replaced by theater giving participants a powerful sense of identity and value through a militarized experience. It is this identity, and the ambiguity between real and made up, so emblematic of post 9-11 political discourse, that interests me most.

I came to this series after having spent the last few years photographing very graphic examples of the human cost of war. Many of the subjects I photographed said they grew up thinking war would be “fun.” Many watched the first Gulf War on TV and thought it was “awesome.” Several said that becoming a soldier meant they would finally do something good in life.

Rather than continuing to show evidence of war, it seems appropriate for me to show the fantasies of war, the selling of war, the institutions of war, the culture of war and with it the militarization of American life.