FIRE! SITES- Defense, Deterrence, Bargaining ChipsSep 5 — Oct 18, 1989


  • Richard Misrach, Dr. Doom's Doomsday Machine, Nuclear Test Site, 1988

  • Barbara Norfleet, Space Museum, Alamogordo, New Mexico, 1988

  • Patrick Nagatani, "Fin de Siecle," Bat Flight Amphitheater, Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico, 1989

  • Patrick Nagatani, Rocket Lounge, Alamogordo, New Mexico, 1989/1992

The exhibition, presented in the East and West Galleries, included photographs that explore the threatening presence of missiles and test sites in the United States from above and below ground and within the American landscape, at times pointedly capturing the beauty and horror of the weaponry, or charging the “fire” sites with both serious and irreverently funny meaning, while in other cases connoting impending menace.  Featured in the exhibition were photographs taken on and above military bases, in national weapons laboratories, and in remote desert locations by six contemporary American photographers-- Emmet Gowin, David Graham, David Hanson, Richard Misrach, Patrick Nagatani and Barbara Norfleet.  The title for the exhibition derived from speeches and writings by scholars and concerned citizens within the peace movement. 

Highlighted images in FIRE! SITES were Emmet Gowin’s aerial view of ICBM Silos in Knob Noster, Missouri; photographs by David Graham of the Ground Zero tunnel beneath Ranier Mesa; David Hanson’s aerial views of Minuteman missile sites and launch control facilities in the Kadotas and Montana; “Dr. Doom’s Doomsday Machine” photographed at a nuclear test site in Nevada by Richard Misrach; works from Patrick Nagatani’s series “The Nuclear Enchantment of New Mexico”; and photographs by Barbara Norfleet of the Sandia National Laboratory at the Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Edwards Air force Base in the Mojave Dessert, the Space Museum in Alamogordo, New Mexico, and the Trinity Site display at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico (here, at 5:29 on the morning of July 16, 1945, the first atomic bob was exploded, ushering in the nuclear age), among other fire sites.

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Museum of Contemporary Photography

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