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Bug Out Bag: The Commodification of American Fear

Bug Out Bags are manifestations of the fears and obsessions of the 21st Century American. The Bug Out Bag is the most basic piece of gear for disaster preparedness. It is usually a backpack or an easy to carry duffel bag containing the essentials needed to sustain life for 72 hours, or to possibly begin a new civilization.

As I traveled the different regions of the United States I met liberals and conservatives, atheists, evangelicals, Catholics, and Mormons known as ‘preppers’: they are prepared and they are prepared to help others. Each bag becomes a portrait of its owner, showing us their most basic needs and also their fears in the face of environmental and global change.

Prepping, stocking up to get ready for a disaster, has become a capitalist enterprise, banking on our fears and desires for stability.

Allison Stewart

Allison Stewart (1968, Houston, Texas) is an American photographer whose work explores the construction of American identity through its relics, rituals, and mythologies.
Her work has been shown in gallery and museum spaces internationally, including the Aperture Foundation, The Wright Museum, The New Mexico History Museum, The Torrance Art Museum, Houston Center for Photography, SITE: Brooklyn, and Soho Photo Gallery in New York City.