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My War : GABIE STRONG

MY WAR

Artist Statement

My work is an exploration of the denatured environment, the result of two arcs of research and the relationships that form between them: the influence of war on the built environment and social culture of the West; and the radical, if not alchemical, subversive resistance to this convention.

My 2008 MFA thesis research surveyed the influence of war on the built environment and social culture of Southern California. Initially as a response to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, I identified the very Western problem of living with war as an abstract, imperialist situation in which modern American wars happen only abroad and thus virtually. In reading Paul Virilio and Sylvère Lotringer’s text "Pure War," I recognized there existed a consistent narrative of war threaded throughout my own lifetime. Even though this narrative exists in a distinctly relational condition of having grown up during the end of the Cold War with the feeling of impending doom looming overhead, the events of September 11th have brought this affliction back into the everyday world of which I live.

My War (after the 1983 Black Flag record of the same name) is a tableau revealing the uncanny structure of the naturalization of war in Southern California. I present photographs and maps picturing the remains of WWII era large gun batteries and Nike Ajax missile launching sites in San Pedro, California, as well as political objects like anti-war vinyl record albums and library archives of critical war journals and defense trade magazines. By photographing these sites and objects, I am able to link war to the banality of the vernacular and intellectual landscape.

In March of 2012, I presented My War at Angels Gate Cultural Center in San Pedro, California. Angels Gate, is a studio artist community and gallery located in the former Army barracks of a decommissioned military complex. Situated in the historic Fort MacArthur military reservation, Angels Gate provided relational context for my site-specific work, thus creating a spatial dialectic between the abstracted condition of war and its literal foundation in Southern California.