With my new series "The Converts," I photograph individuals who have converted to Islam. Pictured here are women and men who were not born into families practicing Islam, but have themselves chosen the faith. Among the people that I've worked with, some have been Muslim for decades while others are recent converts.
This project stems from ideas that have interested me in my work for years: what does it mean to be an American? Who are we as a people, and how do we define ourselves? How do we understand our country in relation to other nations and cultures? In a society that, however falsely, often constructs "American" and "Muslim" as diametrical opposites, what is the experience of people who have traversed this imagined line? In this project I explore how converts understand themselves, as well as the relationships that they have with their birth and adopted religions, families and cultures.
With the series "Simulating Iraq" I look at American military training for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. These photographs were made on military bases within the U.S., in fabricated spaces designed to mimi Iraq and Afghanistan. The simulations include the use of specific architecture, objects and costumes, and Americans (both soldiers and civilians) who role-play as Iraqis and Afghans.
I am interested in the ways that the imagination is at work in these spaces. In some respects, a visit to these places can be confusing. One wonders, who are the good guys and who are the bad guys? Who is a real Iraqi and who is a fake insurgent? What does it feel like for a soldier to play the role of her or his enemy? What does it mean to a young soldier who has their first encounter with difference in this environment? These spaces are meant as imitation of reality, but they take on their own realities, especially because there are, after all, preparations for soldiers who will shortly be in a real war zone.
I am an artist-photographer deeply engaged by what it means to be a 21st-century American. My most recent project, "The Converts" (2011-present) explores the experiences of individual Americans who have converted to Islam. "Simulating Iraq" (2007-2010) is a project that deals with American military training for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Born and raised in Chicago, Claire Beckett earned a BA in Anthropology at Kenyon College. She then worked as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Benin, West Africa, before going on to earn an MFA in Photography at Mass College of Art.
Claire Beckett is represented by Carroll and Sons Gallery in Boston. Her photographs have been featured in solo exhibitions at Carroll and Sons, Bernard Toale Gallery, the University of Rhode Island, and the Wadsworth Atheneum and in group shows at Mass MoCA, the Chelsea Museum of Art, the Haggerty Museum, the deCordova Museum, the Photographic Resource Center, Silver Eye Center for Photography, Hendershot Gallery, FOTODOK (NL), and the Noorderlicht Festival (NL), among others. She is a recipient of an Artadia Award, a Blanche Coleman Award, and a Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant, and has been artist-in-residence at Light Work.
Claire Beckett resides in Boston, where she is a full-time visiting faculty member in photography at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Click on any of the thumbnail images to launch the viewer. You can then navigate forward and backward within the portfolio by clicking the left or right side of the enlarged image. Click the add to collection checkbox to automatically add an image to your collection. Image tags or search engine keywords appear below the collections' checkbox and each word or phrase is a link to potentially more image matches.