The Army's National Training Center at Fort Irwin, CA is a 1,200 square
mile facsimile of the Middle East where American troops train through
simulations, with Iraqi and Afghani actors, villages made out of shipping
containers, and civilian amputees acting as casualties. Nicholas
Grider made four trips to the National Training Center (NTC) to role-play
an embedded journalist, spending time with both the troops and the actors.
The photographs and written works in Artifice and Sacrifice document
his experiences with fakery and with "death" at the NTC, exploring
how the U.S. military stages death in an attempt to prepare its troops
for reality overseas.
A large part of the work centers on the civilian amputees, hanging out
or napping on the desert floor between simulations. Other pieces
echo and expand on these images: 30 translations of the phrase "stop
or I will shoot;" and the true story of a soldier shooting Grider
point-blank with an unloaded handgun.
Artifice and Sacrifice introduces a long-term
project examining how contemporary institutions like the military deal
with mortality, both real and simulated.
Nicholas Grider is an artist and writer who currently lives in Milwaukee. He
earned his MFA in art and writing from CalArts in 2008 and an MA in Mass
Communication from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2006. He
has upcoming solo shows at Portrait Society in Milwaukee and Anthony
Greaney in Boston, and is curating a group show for the Angels Gate Cultural
Center in San Pedro next fall.