David Maisel: Proving Ground
An unsettling encounter with one of the most secretive of American military zones, Proving Ground is David Maisel's photographic investigation of Dugway Proving Ground, a classified site covering nearly 800,000 acres in a remote region of Utah's Great Salt Lake Desert. From its inception during World War II to the present day, Dugway's primary mission has been to develop and test chemical and biological weaponry and defense programs. After more than a decade of inquiry, Maisel was granted rare access to photograph the terrain, testing facilities and other aspects of this deliberately obscured region of the American atlas. Comprising aerial and on-site photos made at Dugway, this body of work explores questions surrounding military power, national security and land use, as well as the limits of technology and human endeavor. Maisel's engagement with Dugway challenges the capacity of photography as visual evidence; his subjects resist easy interpretation and thus multiply strands of meaning. Proving Ground is a critical response to the extraordinary formal and political aspects embedded at Dugway, in Maisel's words a "hidden, walled-off, secret site that offers the opportunity to reflect on who and what we are collectively, as a society."