In September 1993, the Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, Illinois was shut down and abandoned. These photographs are from within the base’s headquarters building, which, when built, was the largest single military building in the United States before the Pentagon was constructed. Potentially, this building could have been put back into civilian use, but after the base closed, Rantoul’s economy declined severely which left the building doomed to fate. For the past fourteen years it has been left to lay waste to the elements. Riddled with black mold, lead paint and asbestos, the building has fallen so far into disrepair that it has all the markings of an environmental hazard. After having been auctioned off by the city, it is currently privately owned, it’s future uncertain.
When I saw the first of several hand painted wall murals in the Headquarters building I was struck by the expressive way in which some servicemen displayed their patriotism and pride for their country and service. Much like petroglyphs, these murals symbolized an American military that once prided itself on its prowess and over-reaching influence throughout the world. But in today’s political climate, I find that they have taken on a deeper more cynical meaning. Their faded and crumbling condition creates a metaphor that questions our role as a militaristic world power and how that role has steadily eroded over time, and how public sentiment by the rest of the world regards our policies on global policing.