Monday, November 27, 2006

Black World • Trevor Paglen

Unmarked 737 at "Gold Coast" Terminal/Las Vegas, NV/Distance ~1 mile/10:44 pm, 30 x 36 inches, C-Print, Edition of 5

Chemical and Biological Weapons Proving Ground/Dugway, UT/Distance ~22 miles/11:17 am, 40 x 40 inches, C-Print, Edition of 5

Tail Numbers/Gold Coast Terminal, Las Vegas, NV/Distance ~1 mile/5:27 pm, 30 x 36 inches,C-Print, Edition of 5

Black World, an exhibition by Trevor Paglen at Bellwether gallery, features a startling collection of photographs, videos, and images exploring the deepest recesses of the military industrial complex.

Over the last five years, Trevor Paglen has developing unique visual strategies to explore the "black world" of classified military and intelligence activities. To produce his photographs of secret military installations Paglen uses powerful telescopes and employs astronomical techniques to capture his subject from dozens of miles away - a proprietary technique he terms "Limit-Telephotography." The sheer distances, heat, and atmospheric distortions captured in his work result in photographs that often take on the qualities of impressionistic paintings.

Paglen is the first and only person to have photographed several of the CIA's "black sites" overseas - a collection of secret prisons whose existence (but not locations) the CIA has only recently acknowledged. These never-before-seen photographs will also be on display. Other works on view include a diverse collection of patches and symbols worn by people working on secret military programs - programs that do not officially "exist" - and forged signatures from the corporate documents of CIA front companies.

By confronting us with images of a world that cannot be seen with the naked eye, and that do not "officially" exist, Paglen asks the viewer to meditate on the limits of vision, abstraction and the nature of evidence as he performs a series of stunning interventions into the history of landscape photography.

I would question the claim that Trevor Paglen tells really something about the black world, for sure he tells something about how a certain kind of photography (and work titles) can still gain this aura of truth.


Trevor Paglen at Bellwether till December 23 2006

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