Constellation Over Playas

September 2013

Supported by Jerome Foundation

Since 2003 the United States has enacted simulated terrorist attacks against the abandoned mining town, Playas, New Mexico. Constellations Over Playas proposes that we look at this place as an imaginary stage for the dramatization and repetition of collective traumas, a stage where the recreation of the past is used to control the future. Constellations generates iterations of associative networks pulled from the source material the artists have accumulated on their journeys through the area, providing an ephemeral travelogue through the colonial, material, military, imaginary, and cinematic trails that intersect with their investigations of Playas.


“In 2013, we visited Playas, New Mexico, a ghost town transformed into a staging ground for law and enforcement and the military to enact dramas from the war on terror. Constellations Over Playas maps both our real road trips through the region, and journeys through the imaginary southwest that we found in stories, myths, and the cinema. Beneath the paved roads that we travelled, we uncovered other buried pathways that led to forgotten stories, ghostly presences, and uncanny similarities. The project uses resemblance as a modality for thinking outside the neoliberal paradigm of constant war and limitless expansion. The town of Playas forms a central node in a series of constellations of visual association assembled as a spell to exorcise the specters of the American West.” – Moore/Vella