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

“Bug Out Bag dissolves the space between us and them, it addresses the flux between the individual and the collective, and it presages massive events that may unite or divide us. We needn’t wait to find out though. We can start the work of existing together now. Surviving catastrophe is about food caches and back-up generator power, but it is more about people power. Your survival depends less on what is in your bag and more on what is in your heart.” -Pete Brook

Earthquakes.  Superstorms. War.  Martial Law. The Rapture. The Zombie Apocalypse.  The Bug Out Bag 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 global change. While traveling the United States, I have met veterans, self-subscribed Preppers who live "off grid", teachers, and a man who will sell your cat a Bug out Bag for $90. Most are community minded but some are fiercely independent. At its most extreme, the new self-reliant American no longer experiences transcendence in nature, but instead, escapes to nature in an effort to hoard and protect their property.  Living off grid has become a capitalist enterprise, banking on our fears and desires for stability.

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