The underlying issue of buried military ordnance is one that affects many similar ex-military and war sites around the world today. This work touches on society, personal anxieties, residual effects of war, aftermath of combat, memory, environmental contamination and government bureaucracy. Gardening For Ordnance juxtaposies appropriated government text and photographs structured as diptychs to illustrate the contrast between two divergent elements; the dichotomy of aloof governmental documentation against the anxiety of living on an ex-military site with its inherent dangers.
This project expands on my investigation of the passage of time and the issues of reality and memory, and the contradictions where these intersect. My subject is the former Trabuco Bombing Range, one of 9,800 Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) throughout the United States, that is located in the city of Rancho Santa Margarita and adjacent O’Neill County Park, in southern California. I am personally invested in this project because I live on this decommissioned ex-military site.
I use expired 120mm analog film as a physical representation for past experiences. The unpredictability of the expired film provides parallels to the inexactitude of memory, and the decay of the film corresponds with the decomposition of the old buried military ordnance. My photographs are intended to be objective and a straight forward viewpoint devoid of drama.
This bombing range was used to train U.S. Navy and Marine pilots during WWII and the Korean War. The photographs are juxtaposed with aseptic text from various governmental agencies and public reporting of the area’s on-going restoration.
The layered narrative is a response to a combination of current circumstances; a community that continues to be impacted by the aftermath of war, governmental agencies encrypting the facts about potential dangers, potential ecological impact of business decisions, and the transitional nature of memory over time.