Gettysburg 7 (Unidentified Timbers Family Member) | C-Print | 18" x 24" | 2016
Artist Statement: Civil War battlefields, as they are now memorialized, are strange, highly negotiated spaces. While there is general agreement that the history these sites preserve is important, the complexities of how this history is presented and how the land has been changed to accommodate current stakeholders’ interests has not been adequately explored. War colleges run by our armed forces make frequent use of these locations to teach our aspiring young officers military history and tactics. Historians, archaeologists—scholars of every type—come to these sites in support of their research. And then, there are the literally millions of tourists who visit annually, whose importance cannot be underestimated because it is their support that keep these parks open. These audiences come with disparate and often contrary purposes for doing so.
Battlefield Project started as a way to explore of all this, a way to question how particular memorialized sites have evolved from the scarred and blood soaked fields where often tens of thousands fell and died, to what they are now.
Many of the photos included in this series are simply documentation of sites and phenomena directly observed. Others record digital projections of archival photographs of soldiers or heroic paintings of battle. These projections are cast upon the sites where those depicted fought and fell. Rather than post-production collage via Photoshop layering or the like, I am interested in the physical integration, image wrapping over structure, and how projected fragments from the past are supported by and illuminating of the landscapes and structures they are cast upon.
Whether observed or constructed, the goal of these photographs is the same—to create a compression between a traumatic past and the present day, a space where the relationship between site and memory, the now and that fleeting moment where the nation almost succeeded in tearing itself apart, can be investigated. Additional works from this series can be found at: jeffbeekman-battlefiedproject.com.
Jeff Beekman received his BFA from the University of Florida in 2000 and his MFA from the University of New Mexico in 2005. He has taught at a variety of universities, including the University of New Mexico-Gallup, Georgia Southern University, and the University of Oklahoma. He currently teaches at Florida State University where he is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art. His work has been widely exhibited nationally, and internationally his work has been shown at venues in New Zealand, Australia, China, Vietnam, England, Italy, Hungary, and South Korea. His work has been reproduced, reviewed and discussed in a various publications. Highlights include the book LAND/ART: New Mexico (Radius Press, 2010), the magazine Art in Print (2015), and the upcoming exhibition catalogue for From Rembrandt to Pollock to Atget: Celebrating a Collection, (UNM Art Museum Press, 2016). Korean curator Hyeyoun Choi’s interview of Beekman will be published as a book chapter in the upcoming New Media Art 2017, (CICA Museum Press, 2016), and the exhibition catalogue Broken Ground: New Directions in Land Art, hosted by the FSU Museum of Fine Arts, will include a curatorial essay written by Beekman (Spring 2017).