The Way Out of Heaven is Of Like Length and Distance
2019 - Ongoing
In the late 1940s, economist and philanthropist Roger Babson proposed founding a university in Eureka, Kansas called Utopia College which sat at the center of what Babson termed ‘the magic circle' a region he speculated was the best area for development should nuclear war or some other mass disaster take place - able to support the country through its available natural resources, strategic location, and potential for resettlement of a large population. The land within the ‘magic circle’ could become the new economic hub of the country, insulated from the horrors of impending war and its potential aftermath. Babson’s thinking stems from an interest in ‘centrism’ that was growing in the United States following World War II, which is to say more specifically an interest in strategic dispersal of industry away from already established and densely populated economic hubs in the east and west. The idea of the ‘center’ becoming a crucial setting for a new future America, reimagines the perception of the mid-western landscape in the popular imagination. Typically, the areas within ‘the magic circle’, covering approximately a 450-mile radius around Eureka, Kansas, have been viewed as “fly-over country” or as a starting point for the journey west, but never as the destination. I have become interested in creating a photographic project that examines the implied “mystique” of this imagined region in which Kansas becomes a centralized ideal for economic, social, and intellectual prosperity. Utopia College no longer exists, and the nuclear event Babson anticipated never materialized – but what remains within the ‘magic circle’?