On view Early 2021
Adak Island, the midpoint of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands chain, is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the South and the Bering Sea to the North. Used by Indigenous Unangax^ peoples for millennia, in the 20th century the island became the primary U.S. military site for World War II defense against the Japan, as well as a strategic base in Cold War counterintelligence. The town of Adak once supported a military operation of 6,000 people, but in 1997, the U.S. Navy vacated the island. Today, less than 100 people call Adak home. Alaska photographer Ben Huff’s documentation of Adak began in 2015. Intrigued by landscapes that once held vital economic and strategic importance in Western culture, he was drawn to the island’s geographic remoteness and its complex history. Capturing Adak’s stark and expansive horizons, remnants of suburbanization and military infrastructure, as well as portraits of present-day denizens of Adak, Huff explores connections between the natural, geopolitical and cultural forces that have shaped the island. He juxtaposes this work with historical records from the Anchorage Museum’s archives. The work in this exhibition forms part of his forthcoming photo book, Atomic Island.