Playgrounds of War

Gina Glover, Dallachy, Scotland WW1 Control Tower. Image copyright of Gina Glover.

Playgrounds of War is an exhibition of photographs by Gina Glover on the memories and detritus of military bases, on view at Street Level Photoworks in Glasgow till 7 August 2011.

Gina Glover, Harrington, Jessica's Playground. Image copyright of Gina Glover.

Since the early 1980s, Glover has travelled in search of abandoned military bases. Glover developed the Playgrounds of War series from photographs of Harrington, a former World War II airbase in England, which was later allocated to the United States Air Forces. Harrington resides in Glover’s personal history as a place where she had picnics as a child in the 1950s, and was then oblivious to its military associations. Jessica’s Playground, taken in the 1980s, revives this moment of innocence amidst a site constructed for acts of destruction, with Glover’s daughter photographed playing amidst the concrete structures left standing as memorials to its history.

Gina Glover, France, Drop Zone. Image copyright of Gina Glover.

Harrington becomes a metaphorical base for Glover’s own physical and photographic exploration of the aesthetics of past wars, and a point to revisit the shifting zones of confrontation and alliances. During World War II, Harrington was the base for the delivery of supplies to resistance forces in enemy-occupied territories. France, Drop Zone marks a point in the south of France that received supplies from Harrington. With her first series of Harrington photographed in black and white, Glover has since chosen to shoot in colour using a pinhole camera without a viewfinder. With the subjection to long exposures and layering of light, the eventual photographs capture a field of depth and concentration of light that speak to the effects of the natural elements on these sites.

Gina Glover, Estonia, Soviet nuclear submarine training centre Paldiski. Image copyright of Gina Glover.

In the late 1950s, Harrington resumed its military function, where Thor missiles were placed and pointed at the Soviet states during the Cold War. Glover ventures into a former Soviet submarine nuclear training facility to explore the conflict from the other side. In contrast to the other photographs, this is a scene from within, where the fading of the light green wall, peeling paint and broken fixtures are left as debris of the hive of activity that could have occurred at this center of command. While the individual photographs possess a melancholy and muteness in the eroded, uninhabited and derelict sites, the exhibition’s spatial display of the photographs according to the geographical zones of military activity recall the set of confrontations that embed these sites.

A co-founder and director of the Photofusion Photography Centre, London, Glover’s recent exhibitions include Liminal World at Hooper’s Gallery, London in 2010, and was an artist-in-residence at Guy’s Hospital and Northwick Park Hospital in 2008. Her work on the Baltics will be on view at the Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels later this year.

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