Artifice and Sacrifice
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.