Half the Surface of the World

Jan 27, 2012 9:00am

Canadian photographer Greg Girard has lived and worked in Asia since 1976. He first visited Hong Kong in 1974 and was drawn back as an adult, living in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai. He’s worked on assignment for publications such as National Geographic, The New York Times, Forbes, Der Spiegel and many others.

Photographs taken at U.S. military bases scattered across the Pacific, a part of the world the Pentagon designates the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), are part of his “Half the Surface of the World” series. PACOM is comprised of bases established in Asia after World War II and the Korean War and is the largest of the military’s six regional commands, covering half the world’s surface.

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B-52 (Memphis Belle IV), Andersen Air Base, Guam ● 2008: The B-52 bomber “Memphis Belle IV,” part of a squadron of B-52s from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., deployed at Andersen Air Force Base on the U.S. territory of Guam, is parked on the flight line following a nighttime training mission. (© Greg Girard/Courtesy the artist and Monte Clark Gallery, Vancouver and Toronto)

The series examines the physical settings of the bases, where soldiers and their families live in guarded residential communities that appear eerily indistinguishable from mid-20th century, Midwest America. But for some subtle – and sometimes not-so-subtle – visual cues, one could easily think the scenes were taken from a time capsule that was somehow transported to the other side of the globe.

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U.S. Navy Negishi Housing Area, Yokohama, Japan  2009: Two American high school students sit on a street corner after school in the U.S. Navy’s Negishi Housing Area, in Yokohama, Japan. (© Greg Girard/Courtesy the artist and Monte Clark Gallery, Vancouver and Toronto)

 

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Road above U.S. Marine Corps Camp Lester, Okinawa, Japan 2009: Red warning lights signal a sharp right curve on the narrow road above the U.S. Navy Hospital at Camp Lester on the island of Okinawa, where U.S. forces in Japan are predominantly stationed. (© Greg Girard/Courtesy the artist and Monte Clark Gallery, Vancouver and Toronto)

 

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Negishi Housing Area (U.S. Navy), Yokohama, Japan 2008: A view of the U.S. Navy’s Negishi Housing Area in Yokohama, Japan. Until 9/11, a low “neighborly” fence separated the base housing area from the local community. The chain-link, barbed-wire-topped fence was erected soon after as heightened security was enacted at U.S. bases worldwide. (© Greg Girard/Courtesy the artist and Monte Clark Gallery, Vancouver and Toronto)

 

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U.S. Marine Corps Family Housing, Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan  2009: Typhoon-resistant houses in a 1950s suburban setting line the winding streets of the U.S. Marine Corps Family Housing Area at Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan. (© Greg Girard/Courtesy the artist and Monte Clark Gallery, Vancouver and Toronto)

 

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Weekend, Futenma Marine Corps Air Station, Okinawa, Japan 2009: Families of U.S. Marine Corps service members watch a weekend softball game at Futenma Marine Corps Air Station, Okinawa, Japan. (© Greg Girard/Courtesy the artist and Monte Clark Gallery, Vancouver and Toronto)

 

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Mailbox, Negishi Housing Area (US Navy), Yokohama, Japan 2008: A United States Postal Service mailbox sits on a sleepy corner of a naval base. (© Greg Girard/Courtesy the artist and Monte Clark Gallery, Vancouver and Toronto)

 

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ATM and Aircraft Carrier, Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan 2008: Yokosuka Naval Base, southwest of Tokyo, is the homeport of the U.S. Seventh Fleet. Spearheaded by the USS George Washington, the Navy’s only aircraft carrier permanently deployed outside the U.S. (© Greg Girard/Courtesy the artist and Monte Clark Gallery, Vancouver and Toronto)

 

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Paper Boy (“Stars and Stripes”), Yokota Air Base, Japan 2008: A multi-ethnic American paperboy delivers the Stars and Stripes newspaper on Yokota Air Base, Japan. (© Greg Girard/Courtesy the artist and Monte Clark Gallery, Vancouver and Toronto)

 

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Air Force Exchange, Osan Air Base, Korea 2008: Two Air Force service members try out a sofa and the wide screen TV viewing experience at the Air Force Exchange on Osan Air Base in South Korea. (© Greg Girard/Courtesy the artist and Monte Clark Gallery, Vancouver and Toronto)

 

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Photography Studio Display, Okinawa, Japan 2009: Portraits are displayed in the window of an Okinawa photography studio. (© Greg Girard/Courtesy the artist and Monte Clark Gallery, Vancouver and Toronto)

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Upon closer examination, a portrait of an American family dressed in Japanese traditional clothing is seen. (© Greg Girard/Courtesy the artist and Monte Clark Gallery, Vancouver and Toronto)

 

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Women Pier-side, Sasebo Navy Base, Japan ● 2009: Navy wives and girlfriends gather pier-side at Sasebo Navy Base, Japan, to welcome their returning sailor husbands and boyfriends following a multi-week deployment.

“Half the Surface of the World” is part of the “Perspectives 2012 exhibit currently showing at New York’s International Center of Photography and runs through May 6, 2012.

 

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