Necessary Fictions • Debi Cornwall (SIGNED)
Photographs and Text by Debi Cornwall, Poetry by Nomi Stone, Fiction by Roy Scranton, Essays by Makeda Best and Sarah Sentilles, Hardcover, 9 x 12 inches, 105 images, 324 pages, Radius Books
What are the stories we tell ourselves, the games we play, to manage unsettling realities? Necessary Fictions explores the performance of American power and identity in the post-9/11 era. During trips to ten military bases across the United States since 2016, DEBI CORNWALL documented mock-village landscapes in the fictional country of “Atropia” and its denizens, roleplayers who enact versions of their past or future selves in realistic training scenarios. Costumed Afghan and Iraqi civilians, many of whom have fled war, now recreate it in the service of the U.S. military. Real soldiers pose in front of camouflage backdrops, dressed by Hollywood makeup artists in “moulage”—fake wounds—as they prepare to deploy.
Cornwall presents a meta-reality—the artifice of war—and the book combines her photographs with a variety of texts to provoke critical inquiry about America’s fantasy industrial complex. With texts by Sarah Sentilles, PEN Award-winning critical theorist; Makeda Best, PhD, Richard L. Menschel Curator of Photography, Harvard Art Museums, Harvard University; Nomi Stone, PhD, Pushcart Prize-winning poet; and an original work of fiction from Lannan Literary Fellow Roy Scranton, PhD.