Army SPC Gary McCorkle playing the role of an IED builder, Fort Irwin, CA 2009
Jabal Town, Fort Irwin, CA 2009
Medina Wasl Town, Fort Irwin, CA 2009
Civilian Joshua Osborne playing the role of an Iraqi civilian, 2008
Marine Lcpl Nicole Veen playing the role of an Iraqi nurse, 2008
Jabal Village Mosque, National Training Center, Fort Irwin, CA 2008
Civilian Krista Galyean playing the role of an injured Marine, 2008
Marines SGT John Sexon, Lcpl Camerson Stark and Lcpl Josh Stevelston as Taliban
Civilian Afghan-American Women roleplay as villagers during a Marine training
Marine Lcpl Joshua Stevens playing the role of a Taliban fighter, 2009
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.
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 there are, after all, preparations for soldiers who will shortly be in a real war zone.
The pictures in this series are made with a large-format camera on color negative film.