David Moore is based in London. His work has been exhibited at the National Museum of Photography in Bradford, Julie Saul Gallery, New York and the Photographers' Gallery, London.

The last things

Since September 2006, photographer David Moore has been working in a secret state location run by the Ministry of Defence below ground in central London. This complex of offices, TV studios, bedrooms and conference rooms is designed to be used in situations of threat or civil unrest and is fully prepared for extreme national emergencies.

The environment is sustainable for extended periods and is part of a larger network. Moore was granted an unprecedented level of access, which enabled him to observe a live working space, continuously on standby. The following are two extracts from Moore's diary which accompany his photographic project.

28 March 2007

After negotiating access to a particular room today we waited outside whilst the people inside covered up various bits of hardware and notices with Post-it notes. This was to ensure computers were not identifiable in any photographs. We were then allowed into a 15ft sq room, obviously a space where cleaners don't go, paper strewn everywhere, with two men working in it. On leaving I thanked a man for allowing us in. He said "no worries" but didn't really mean it. The conversation went like this.

Him: "For my part I didn't want you here, you are shooting with wet film, and having to take the film off the premises."

Me: "Yes, there is some trust involved here. M**** and the powers-that-be are having full sight of everything."

Him: "We don't trust anyone here, it's our job. We aren't part of anything that goes on here and are in this room by grace and favour... Nothing personal, but we work with nasty bastards every day and are trying to delay the inevitable happening, sooner rather than later. The work you are doing may put you at risk. Before you go into the next room, make sure it is all hunky dory."

18 May 2007

"Sign-off" meeting. The AD Lt Col was cheerfully officious as I began my Powerpoint presentation. He was only doing his job. Looking at the body of work, he had concerns with words and numbers in the images, and as the objections have not been about imagery per se, but details within them, I will have to censor the photographs digitally. The AD Lt Col didn't want the work to be a "terrorists' guide to the facility" but was more than happy for me to use the photograph of the map of IIran as long as I removed the map reference within the image. We continued the meeting as fire alarms went off and PA announcements told us to remain where we were.

I suggested I use conjectural descriptions of a room I had been denied access to in replacement for the photographs I could have taken. It was a big "No" from the start and I began to wonder whether this room existed at all or whether I'd just dreamt it. You could say the same about the whole complex; its official status is definitely an "unknown" and being in it makes you reconsider everything.



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