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Socorro, New Mexico, USA 2008. The bomb test area of New Mexico Tech. Here, a kamikaze mannequin leans against a wall Image Credit: Jason Oddy

“The Land of Enchantment” is how it is referred to on the licence plates in New Mexico. In his book Notes from the Desert, Jason Oddy explains this figure of speech. He obtained a permit from the American government to produce an in-depth photographic portrait of Playas, which lies on the border between Mexico and Arizona.

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Playas, New Mexico, USA 2008. Another former residence turned into a training zone Image Credit: Jason Oddy

This strange town in the desert, once a hub of copper smelting, has been transformed into an anti-terrorism training ground. 24 hours a day, emergency services practice their first response with actors against a stunning natural backdrop. A fascinating ideological theatre that tells a tale of total security. Jason Oddy shoots the residents and actors in this Truman Show of terrorism in perfect focus. We are given a window into the profession that very few little girls would ever dream about: kamikaze actress. Growing up in Playas, like in any country at war, you can be sure that the school run will often cross paths with a labyrinth of ambulances, fire engines and soldiers in military SUVs.

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Playas, New Mexico, USA 2004. The abandoned sports field Image Credit: Jason Oddy

When a huge explosion goes off, you just keep drinking your tea or filling your basket in the supermarket. In this everyday surreal scenario, we find Jason Oddy's fascination for extremely haunting places such as Guantanamo and the Pentagon, a “desolate enchantment”, as defined by writer and journalist François Angelier. An accomplished work in which he masters psychogeography.

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Playas, New Mexico, USA 2008. “Proof” that one of the houses in Playas is now used as a bomb development facility Image Credit: Jason Oddy

Notes from the Desert by Jason Oddy, Grasset