Like many of his fellow Americans, Jack Spencer wasn’t happy when United States forces invaded Iraq in March 2003. His “This Land” series grew out of a deep concern about what kind of country America was at the beginning of the Second Gulf War.
“I was pretty pissed about the U.S. going to war and disgusted with all the American flag waving going on … all the hyper-patriotism that permeated the air during that time,” he says. “I took a 9,000-mile driving trip out and around the West. I tried avoiding the cliché of American flags painted on barn roofs and flags planted everywhere along the way. Then at Wounded Knee (Pine Ridge), there was a small tattered flag on the gatepost of a cemetery high on a hill. It seemed like an indictment, yet the irony was palpable.
“When I got home, I started making the darkroom prints, and for some reason I started distressing them — tearing the edges, gouging the surfaces, splattering them with caustic substances.