Claire Beckett / MATRIX 163

Claire Beckett / MATRIX 163: Simulating Iraq [composite], Nov 3, 2011 – March 4, 2012, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford_web header

Claire Beckett / MATRIX 163
November 3, 2011 – March 4, 2012

Download the MATRIX 163 exhibition brochure.

Artist Claire Beckett‘s MATRIX project Simulating Iraq, on view November 3, 2011 to March 4, 2012, featured a series of large-scale color photographs that investigated American military training sites, where soldiers participated in role-playing exercises to prepare for deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan.

In makeshift simulations of Middle Eastern villages, military personnel and hired civilians assume the various “parts”—from Iraqi villagers and medical workers to Taliban fighters—dressed in approximations of traditional clothing including head scarves, tunics, and robes.

Although the military activities above are intended to familiarize troops with a foreign culture and unknown terrain, Beckett’s “documentary” photographs present the viewer with a fascinating and false alternate reality through a straightforward but problematic account of cultural simulation charged with genuine humanity.

Simulating Iraq offered a contemporary counterpoint to the concurrent Civil War-focused exhibition Colts & Quilts, on view November 16, 2011 to May 6, 2012. The year 2011 marked the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

Artist Residency
As part of the museum’s Community Engagement Initiative, teens at the Boys & Girls Club of Asylum Hill worked with Beckett and teaching artists Rita Lombardi and Lawrence Roy to produce a series of photo portraits inspired by MATRIX 163. Learn more about Beckett’s Artist Residency.

Learn more about the museum’s MATRIX program.