New Mexico Art Tells its History

Trinity Site, Jornada Del Muerto, New Mexico

Trinity Site, Jornada Del Muerto, New Mexico, 1989
Patrick Nagatani (American, born 1945)
cibachrome print, 20 x 24 in. (50.8 x 61 cm)
Gift of anonymous donor, 1997

Patrick Nagatani was raised and educated in Los Angeles where he achieved artistic recognition for his highly original photographic images. He pioneered the Contemporary Constructive Movement in the late 1970s, and is acclaimed for his thought-provoking photographs dealing with various facets of the human condition. Nagatani, working in series, creates tableaus—elaborate fictional narratives—made up of two and three-dimensional imagery which he then photographs. He has explored the effects of the nuclear industry on New Mexico, and Japanese-American internment camps from World War II.

Reflective Questions and Activities:

 E/S  Describe the major colors used in this photograph. How do they make you feel? What specific reasons might the photographer have for using this palette?  
S Where is the Trinity Site and what does the monument in the photograph recognize? Why was this location used for testing? Who are the people in this scene—where do you think they come from? What are they doing?  
S What kind of plane appears at the top? What significance does it have in this scene?  
S We think of photographs as being true pictures of reality. Do you think this is a real scene—why or why not? How might Patrick Nagatani have manipulated his materials to construct it? Why is it okay for an artist to create his or her own version of reality? Given the use of the atomic bomb in World War II, what message might Nagatani be giving us in this photograph?  


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