The US Department of the Interior has consistently conceived of interiority as outside the sovereign bounds of the United States, training its view toward the exterior. Framed as a history of westward expansion, a true Department for and of the Interior has never existed. Interior proposes memorials to interiority, commemorating the absence of interiority for the American capitalist project while monumentalizing the methods used to territorialize exterior lands.
Central to the thesis is the relationship between two interiors: Arizona, the site for the memorials, and Afghanistan, a country commemorated in one of the memorials. Throughout the Cold War, the Department of the Interior produced films of American states, including Arizona, to gain support for its Cold War development aid projects abroad. These films captured American landscapes and distributed them to countries receiving aid, including Afghanistan, a major aid recipient in the United State’s effort to combat the spread of Soviet Communism.
The film Arizona and Its Natural Resources demonstrated American technical expertise, the transformation of Arizona landscapes, and the ensuing bounty that characterized American life. As a result, the landscapes produced through US involvement in Afghanistan were constructed in the image of American landscapes captured in the film. The Memorial to Interiority in Afghanistan is a cinematic tour of such landscapes. It enervates audience members—American tourists—out of the role of placid spectator into the role of engaged visitor, asking visitors to see themselves in the grounds of our many embroilments abroad.