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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Haggerty-featured artist Claire Beckett blurs realities of war

    Civilian Krista Galyean playing the role of an American Marine injured in an IED blast. Photo via Artmostfierce.

    The Haggerty Museum of Art, in partnership with Fraction Magazine, is currently housing a powerful exhibition focusing on photography as a medium through which the concept of identity is expressed. “The Truth is Not in the Mirror” displays the work of 23 photographers who explore this concept with varying approaches.

    Among the artists featured is Claire Beckett. A Chicago native, Beckett earned her B.A. in anthropology at Kenyon College and her M.F.A. in photography at Massachusetts College of Art. She also served two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Benin, West Africa, and is currently a photography professor at the New England Institute of Art.

    Beckett’s work has been showcased both in the U.S. and internationally, and the Haggerty exhibition features pieces from her series “Simulating Iraq.” These photographs capture scenes from American military training on bases with constructed spaces designed to mimic settings and situations soldiers may face in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition to specific architecture, objects and costumes, the simulations incorporate American soldiers and civilians who role-play as Iraqis and Afghans to make the training realistic.

    In her artist statement, Beckett says she is interested in the ways in which the imagination is at work in these spaces. “These spaces are meant as imitations of reality, but they take on their own realities, especially because they are, after all, preparations for soldiers who will shortly be in a real war zone.”

    Probably the most moving image in the Haggerty exhibition is a photograph of civilian Krista Galyean posing as an American Marine injured in an IED blast. What appears to be the remains of her right arm is wrapped in a bloody bandage, an element of the photo that is difficult not to stare at. Her blood-stained camouflage jacket and pants, sweaty hair matted to her dirt-covered face and tough expression are all part of the role she’s playing.

    When I first saw the image, I thought the artist was photographing actual scenes of war. When I read the individuals in her photos were part of the simulated training, I felt both deceived by the images and even more intrigued by the topic Beckett was commenting on.

    Her work is a powerful look at something both timely and not widely discussed. The portraiture in the series is the most captivating, and truly promotes thought and conversation on Beckett’s subject matter.

    “The Truth is Not in the Mirror” will be on display at the Haggerty until May 22. The museum is open daily and is free and open to the public.

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