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Jason Koxvold’s “BLACK-WATER”

Posted by on August 17, 2016 | Photographer Interviews

Brooklyn-based photographer Jason Koxvold was researching Kuwait on Google Earth when he first got the idea for his series “BLACK-WATER.” He explains: “I could see that a significant part of the country was occupied by U.S. military facilities,” he says—and he wanted to photograph them.

After working for many years as a creative director for advertising agencies and design firms, he decided in 2014 to become a full-time freelance photographer. Photography had been a lifelong passion; even while working a full-time job, he had cultivated an impressive online following for his images. He had also worked with editorial clients including WIRED, Wallpaper* and National Geographic Traveler.

“BLACK-WATER” is a double entendre that refers both to the military contracting company formerly used by the U.S. government and the appearance of crude oil, which has a reflective surface. “In 15 years of war, we see more of ourselves reflected back at us than we do the enemy,” explains Koxvold. As an accredited member of the press, he sought permission from the U.S. military’s Public Affairs department to photograph foreign bases. He embedded with the military in Kabul and Bagram, Afghanistan, first, then went on to photograph Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada, and the National Training Center in Barstow, California. He has plans to travel to bases in Qatar and Arizona to continue the series.

“BLACK-WATER” shows neither patriotism nor violence, but instead, the visual iconography of contemporary war and the absurd amount of money that has been invested in it. “[War] is a huge undertaking, and it benefits private industry more than it benefits the military itself,” Koxvold says. He has plans to self-publish a book of the work, with an essay by esteemed photographer and writer Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa.

–Brienne Walsh

All photos © Jason Koxvold

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Read more interviews from our sister magazine, Emerging Photographer, at issuu.com. Submissions for Winter 2016 are open now at emerging photographer.com