Field Notes

Emmanuel College Residency – Day 1

This summer I am fortunate to have the opportunity to be a resident artist at Emmanuel College in Boston, Massachusetts. Emmanuel College has had visiting artists each summer for a number of years, and this year there are three artists including myself. The other two artists are Jackie Brown and Colin McMullan.

I plan to use the next two months to try and get a lot of work done, both on projects that are already in the works as well as on a new body of work based here in Boston. Specifically, I am interested in exploring terrorism and anti-Islam sentiment loosely through the frame of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

From my proposal:

With the election of Donald Trump, and his recent travel ban on citizens from several Muslim countries in the Middle East, anti-Muslim sentiment and general fear of Islam and terrorism have seemed to reach a fever pitch in the United States. However, since 9/11 the vast majority of terrorist attacks in the United States have been carried out by American Citizens. And if we focus only on jihadist terrorists, every single attack was committed by either a citizen or legal resident.

The Boston Marathon bombing is such an example. Brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerian Tsarnaev were both legally living within the United States, with the former being a naturalized citizen. Furthermore, neither were from the Middle East and would be subject to Trump’s essentialized Muslim ban today.

Time and time again research has found that terrorism simply does not lead to effective change. “Terrorism is an ineffective instrument of coercion…its poor success rate is inherent to the tactic of terrorism itself.”

However, terrorism certainly instills fear and often leads to violent retaliation. With increased terrorism around the world and increased anti-Islamic, immigrant, and refugee sentiment within the United States, I am extremely interested in using my photographic practice to examine the Boston Marathon bombing from both a historical and academic standpoint.

I’m sure that over the next two months this project will shift and change direction as I do more research, meet people in the community, and begin to make pictures. But at the moment is is the heading I’m setting out on.

I will be posting daily updates from Boston to Instagram with notes about what I’m working on. Please follow along if you like @benhoste