(Bugout.news) It may seem like an odd combination, but this researcher says it’s absolutely spot on. When it comes to bugout bags, many Americans truly do want to check out – as in, way out, so they have stocked up with odd combinations of weapons, alcohol and illegal drugs.
In a photo series documenting bugout bags, photog Allison Stewart endeavored to find out what people would consider important enough to take with them for 72 hours following an emergency. She says she got the idea for her photo series while working on a separate series, American Anthem, which documented Civil War re-enactors, the UK’s Daily Mail reports.
While working on Anthem, she says she had a conversation with artist and curator Max Presneill about preppers. That conversation, and the fact that some of the re-enactors she photographed were also preppers, led her to Bug Out Bag.
Stewart says she started out by asking friends about their bugout bags before putting an ad on Craigslist.
“The first couple of bags were those of friends, as I was working out technical and aesthetic issues,” she said. “Once I had the look and format I wanted, I went on Craigslist. Since then it has been a word of mouth project.
“Almost everyone I have ever spoken to about the project knows someone with a Bug Out Bag,” she continued. “As I began to travel and photograph bags from different regions I decided to continue until I had bags representing every region of the United States.”
Many of the bags she photographed were full of surprises: Some contained bulletproof vests and guns; others gas masks; still others contained marijuana, wine and liquor.
“I went into the project without any expectations,” Steward said. “I was just curious and I wanted to remain objective. I am interested in their story, how their bag came to be, and how they decided on the contents.
“It wasn’t until my 12th bag that the owner included cash in their bag. I suddenly realized how odd it was that no one else included cash. The bag with tequila and phenobarbital is definitely the most surprising bag I ever photographed,” she said.
“It is the most escapist approach to bugging out. I have photographed bags with weed and wine in them, but the guy with wine in his bag read somewhere that red wine counteracts the effects of radiation so it isn’t really there as an escape,” the photog added.
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So far she says she has traveled to five different states and photographed over 30 bags for the project. However, she wants to visit another three states too before the completed project is in the bag.
“I have traveled to five different states which represent five different regions of the United States. I have three more regions to cover before I consider the project complete,” she said.
“My end goal is to publish a book of all the bags and a finished exhibition that can travel. I am currently talking to historians, survivalists, and curators about contributing essays for the book.”
Many bags contained two different calibers of handguns – along with beer and pot.
“The Bug Out Bag is the most basic piece of gear for disaster preparedness,” said Stewart, who is from Los Angeles.
“It is a backpack or bag that contains everything you need to stay alive for 72 hours, or possibly to begin a new civilization,” she added. “I envisioned it as a portrait series but my first subjects did not want to be on camera. So I began photographing their gear. I still see the project as a portrait series, where each bag represents the owner’s fears in the face of environmental and global change.”
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