Simulating Iraq: Claire Beckett

Marine LCpl Joshua Joshua as a Taliban fighter, 2009 © Claire Beckett

 Simulating Iraq, by Claire Beckett

With the series Simulating Iraq, I look at American military training for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. These photographs were made on military bases within the U.S., in fabricated spaces designed to mimic Iraq and Afghanistan. The simulations include the use of specific architecture, objects and costumes, and Americans (both soldiers and civilians) who role-play as Iraqis and Afghans.

Edge of Medina Wasl Village, Fort Irwin, CA, 2008 © Claire Beckett

Army SPC Gary McCorkle as a terrorist, 2009 © Claire Beckett

I am interested in the ways that the imagination is at work in these spaces. In some respects, a visit to these places can be confusing. One wonders, who are the good guys and who are the bad guys? Who is a real Iraqi and who is a fake insurgent? What does it feel like for a soldier to play the role of her or his enemy? What does it mean to a young soldier who has their first encounter with difference in this environment? These spaces are meant as imitations of reality, but they take on their own realities, especially because they are, after all, preparations for soldiers who will shortly be in a real war zone.

Sharq Village Market, For Irwin, CA, 2008 © Claire Beckett

The pictures in this series are made with a large-format camera on color negative film, and the final works are 30”x40” archival ink jet prints.

Soldiers as the armed civilian group Sons of iraq, 2008 © Claire Beckett

Blue house with rubble, Suliyah Village, 2007 © Claire Beckett

Claire Beckett is a Boston-based artist. Originally from Chicago, she earned a BA in Anthropology at Kenyon College. Claire then worked as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Benin, West Africa, before going on to earn an MFA in Photography at Mass Art. Represented by Carroll and Sons Gallery, Boston, her solo exhibitions have included Carroll and Sons, Bernard Toale Gallery, the University of Rhode Island, and the Wadsworth Atheneum (opening 11/2011.) Group exhibitions have included Mass MoCA, the Chelsea Museum of Art, the Haggerty Museum, the Photographic Resource Center, Hendershot Gallery, Fotodok (NL), and the Noorderlicht Festival (NL). Claire Beckett is the recipient of an Artadia Award and a Mass Cultural Council Grant.

Army SPC Jake Morash as a terrorist IED builder, 2008 © Claire Beckett

To view more images from Simulating Iraq, visit Claire’s website here.

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