We’ve managed to escape extinction so far. Perhaps by sheer luck.
I grew up in the American Midwest during the Cold War culture of the 1980s. My home was within sight of an ammunition plant and a short drive from 150 U.S. Air Force ‘Minuteman’ intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) silos. Locally, it was common knowledge that in the event of an attack, our town would be wiped out in an instant by Soviet Union ICBMs. This wasn’t just the stuff of movies (like The Day After, which captured this very scenario unfolding and was actually filmed where we lived) – This was very real life. The threat of potential nuclear war was literally all around me and overwhelmingly clear: A frightening and compelling backdrop to my childhood.
The following years would bring major shifts in geopolitics. The Soviet Union ended in 1991 and in the same year, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), signed by the United States of America and the USSR, removed and destroyed our nearby 150 nukes. In 1992, the Army decommissioned the ammunition plant that neighbored my home.
Today, in my adult years, news of increasing nuclear armament and faltering nuclear treaties rekindled my childhood anxieties and intrigue. Chaotic Trump Administration rhetoric and foreign policies for Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea have resurfaced uneasy feelings all too familiar from my youth.
This project helps process these emotions.
Ready access to once-classified military information, paired with new technology in consumer aerial photography, allow me to physically explore the same ICBM sites that occupied my imagination as a child and were the root of my anxieties and fascination.
This work investigates what occupies these former ICBM spaces today and in doing so, highlights what is obviously absent: the weapons themselves.
In a time of increasing nationalism and global instability, my work contemplates how we have avoided the existential threats from our past and provides a cautionary work about how we consider our collective future.