ABOUT THE BOOK
David Maisel’s Proving Ground comprises aerial and on-site photographs made at Dugway Proving Ground, a classified military site covering nearly 800,000 acres in a remote region of Utah’s Great Salt Lake Desert. A primary mission of Dugway is to develop, test, and implement chemical and biological weaponry and defense programs. As with Maisel’s other subjects of investigation, Proving Ground is freighted with questions surrounding power, secrecy, land use, and an abiding skepticism toward technology and human endeavor. After more than a decade of inquiry, Maisel was granted access to this facility in order to photograph the terrain, the testing facilities, and other aspects of the site. Maisel began by photographing at ground level, focusing on structures related to the testing of chemical warfare dispersal patterns. He moved then to an aerial perspective to create images that appear as large-scale, minimalist drawings inscribed on the land. Maisel’s work at Dugway also includes photographs of the newly minted WSLAT (Whole System Live Agent Test) facility, which is devoted to identification and neutralization of chemical and biological toxins that can be weaponized by terrorists or rogue nations.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
David Maisel was named a Guggenheim Fellow in the Creative Arts for Proving Ground in 2018. Maisel was a Scholar in Residence at the Getty Research Institute (2007) and an Artist in Residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts (2008). He has been the recipient of an Individual Artist’s Grant from the NEA, and was short-listed for the Prix Pictet (2008). He received a BA from Princeton University and an MFA from California College of the Arts, in addition to study at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. Maisel’s work is included in more than forty public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Victoria & Albert Museum; the National Gallery of Art; the J. Paul Getty Museum; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. His work has been the subject of six monographs: The Lake Project (Nazraeli Press, 2004), Oblivion (Nazraeli Press, 2006), Library of Dust (Chronicle Books, 2008), History’s Shadow (Nazraeli Press, 2010), Black Maps (Steidl Verlag, 2013), and Mount St. Helens: Afterlife (Ivorypress, 2018). Proving Ground follows exhibitions at Haines Gallery, San Francisco, CA, and the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, Logan, Utah.