Installation view of MM's Bug Out Bag in the exhibition Singular/Signature at the Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins, Colorado. 2017

Bug Out Bag:  The Commodification of American Fear

Hurricanes.  Earthquakes.  Superstorms.  War.  Martial Law.  The Rapture.  The Zombie Apocalypse. Bug Out Bags are manifestations of the fears and obsessions of the 21st Century self-reliant American.  The Bug Out Bag is the most basic piece of gear for disaster preparedness and it contains the essentials needed to sustain life for 72 hours, or to possibly begin a new civilization.  Each bag becomes a portrait of its owner, showing us their fears in the face of environmental and political change.  Most preppers  are community minded but some are fiercely independent.   Independence is a fundamental principle when describing the American character.  We praise the self reliant man and credit him for the shining city upon the hill, but Twenty-first Century capitalism has changed Americans and our fears are running rampant.  The new self-reliant American no longer experiences transcendence in nature as Thoreau once did, but instead, escapes to nature in an effort to hoard and protect property.  Prepping has become a capitalist enterprise, banking on our fears and desires for stability.


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