Exhibitions | Exhibitions To the North

David Maisel: Proving Ground at NEHMA

David Maisel
West_Vertical_Grid_01, 2016
Dye sublimation prints on aluminum
Nine elements, each element 40 x 40 inches
image courtesy of the artist

September 14 – December 14, 2019

Opening Reception Saturday, September 14, 6:30pm

In a remote region of Utah’s Great Salt Lake Desert, a classified military site called Dugway Proving Ground remains largely hidden from public view, closed to civilians and rarely seen in the media. Since its founding during World War II, Dugway Proving Ground has been a test site for chemical and biological weapons.

In 2014, after a decade of inquiry to the Pentagon, 
David Maisel was granted access to Dugway Proving Ground.

The Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art is pleased to present this new body of work by Maisel, who was awarded a prestigious 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship in the Arts for the Proving Ground project. Through large-scaled photographs and video projection,Proving Ground immerses the viewer in this surreal and alien realm – in Maisel’s words, a “hidden, walled-off, and secret site that offers the opportunity to reflect on who and what we are collectively, as a society.”

Despite its massive size, Dugway remains all but invisible. It is located – by necessity – in an extremely remote and isolated area. Its isolation and vast scale of some 800,000 acres (more than 1200 square miles) make it particularly suited to working with virulent substances like anthrax, sarin, and plague. On aeronautical charts, the militarized airspace is labeled “Restricted R-6402 A,” and pilots are cautioned of “Special Military Activity.”

The landscape of Dugway Proving Ground foreshadows future battlefields, from the dimensions of their craters to the geometry of their ruins.

An aura of creeping apocalypse surrounds Maisel’s photographs and video projection. Aerial photographs reveal vast weapon testing grids carved into the land. Photographs depict a laboratory designed for neutralizing biological threats and decontaminating battlefield toxins. A lone structure in the desert titled “Target Test Building” appears in sequential photographs, its architecture subject to the dark creativity of Dugway Proving Ground.


  • Location

    650 North 1100 East
    Logan, Utah 84322


  • Museum Hours

    Sun – Mon

    Tues – Wed
    10am – 5pm

    10am – 7pm

    10am – 5pm

    9am – 2pm


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