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Claire Beckett, American civilians playing the role of Iraqi village women drinking tea: Karen Davis as “Salihah Asad Hatim,” Verna Pouesi as “Amira Rough,” Randa Matgyo as “Kawthar Amid,” and Faye Ugapo as “Rim Duqaq Barakah,” Medina Wasl Village, National Training Center, Fort Irwin, CA, 2009, archival ink-jet print, 40 x 30".

Claire Beckett

Carroll and Sons Gallery

Claire Beckett, American civilians playing the role of Iraqi village women drinking tea: Karen Davis as “Salihah Asad Hatim,” Verna Pouesi as “Amira Rough,” Randa Matgyo as “Kawthar Amid,” and Faye Ugapo as “Rim Duqaq Barakah,” Medina Wasl Village, National Training Center, Fort Irwin, CA, 2009, archival ink-jet print, 40 x 30".

Claire Beckett’s crisp, large-format photographs of US soldiers preparing to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan capture the complexity of the nation’s post-9/11 military operations in their intertwinement with imaging systems—photography and film/video—that are premised on a false sense of proximity. Granted security clearance to the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California, Beckett spent more than three years documenting army personnel and civilian workers engaging in role-play exercises aimed at readying new soldiers for the populations and perils they would likely encounter once deployed to foreign territories. The scenarios and personas that Beckett photographed in the center’s artificially fabricated Middle East–style settlement in the Mojave Desert and environs are based on descriptions given by intelligence services, and by participants playing local citizenry

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