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watercolor painting of dome under blue sky

Project Series 51
Incendiary Traces

On View January 17 – May 14, 2017

Project Series 51: Incendiary Traces presents artist Hillary Mushkin’s newest project. Incendiary Traces is an experimental art, research and media initiative investigating how landscape imagery is used in international conflict. It brings groups of artists, scholars, and students to active, local militarized sites to draw, observe and otherwise “trace” locations that have included the 29 Palms Marine Corps Base, the US/Mexico border, San Clemente Island Naval Weapons Testing Range, among others. Through research, event reports, and public scholarship, Incendiary Traces has collected drawings, photographs, and stories that highlight the various ways we visualize war. Counter to the mediated experience of remote conflict, Incendiary Traces provides a fresh view of national security and war as a physical, grounded American public experience. Engaging Pomona College students and faculty and other artists and scholars, the project will include an exhibition, an off-campus site-specific drawing event, a public forum, and a publication.

Project Series 51: Incendiary Traces will be on view concurrently with the Museum’s exhibition Goya’s War. Francisco Goya’s Disasters of War has been a source of inspiration for Mushkin for over a decade. In particular the prints Yo lo vi (I saw this) and Esto es lo verdadero (This is the truth) discussed by Susan Sontag in Regarding the Pain of Others eloquently speak to Mushkin’s concerns. Sontag points to these and other artworks to illustrate the challenges of representing an authentic experience of war. Do images and text help connect viewers, re-inscribe distance from war, or both? Taking the legacies of Goya’s series and Sontag’s critique as a starting point, Project Series 51: Incendiary Traces will explore connections between Disasters of War and contemporary human and technological visualizations of US international conflict.

This project is supported in part by the Pasadena Art Alliance.

Book cover for Incendiary Traces exhibit by Hillary Mushkin natural colors with blue text

Project Series 51: Incendiary Traces

Incendiary Traces complements the first museum exhibition of Los Angeles–based artist Hillary Mushkin—a unique collective project that interrogates landscape through drawing. This experimental initiative was generated through on-site public “draw-in” events, ongoing research and publication of related materials. Incendiary Traces contextualizes the work done by this project at six different local militarized zones over the past five years. The book includes an introductory text by Rebecca McGrew, an essay by Susanna Newbury discussing the effect of military technology on visualizing conflict, an essay by Sarah Seekatz on the history of Southern California’s date industry and the orientalist fantasies associated with the Coachella Valley desert, and narrative captions by Hillary Mushkin.

Hillary Mushkin's Incendiary Traces is a collective art and research project focused on visualizing landscapes of international conflict. 

Catalogue design by Kimberly Varella