“Evidence and Fantasy: Militarism in American Life”

My work examines the influence of war and militarism on American life at this time in our history when so many of our resources both human and material are dedicated to military pursuit.

The group of images exhibited downstairs at the Sanctuary shows wounded veterans who have recently returned from Iraq and are from the Purple Hearts series. I wanted to see what it means when able bodied warriors who had committed themselves ideologically and physically to a military life are transformed and recast as disabled veterans abruptly thrust back into the civilian realm, with their sense of power and purpose diminished. While their physical wounds were extreme, my primary focus was their psychological condition and their struggle to find identity in the aftermath of war.

The images exhibited upstairs at the Sanctuary are from the Homeland series, and were created in conjunction with and in response to Purple Hearts. Many of the soldiers I met said they thought war would be fun, yet the result of their experience told a different story. I became interested in how as a culture we visualize and fantasize war and what role the burgeoning homeland security state plays in the creation and dissemination of these fantasies.

Nina Berman