The project was commissioned by GQ Magazine in Australia following the social media hype of 'Storm Area 51', the Facebook event that took place on 20 September at the US Air Force facility in the Nevada desert.
The pair met with local businesses and residents living in the vicinity of the famous base, to ask them about their everyday lives and extraterrestrial experiences. "Their feedback inspired us to make photographs that captured the surreal mood and uncanny aura of the region," Koopmans told Creative Boom.
The main road in that area is Nevada's State Route 375, which was officially designated in 1996 by the state of Nevada as the 'Extraterrestrial Highway'. "Locals were worried about how many tourists would turn up for the "raid" and expected the worst," adds Koopmans. "But the turnout was low and the secrets of Area 51 still remain."
Koopmans and Wexell visited Area 51's closest town, Rachel, where no more than 60 people live, "depending on who's in jail at any given moment", according to a local cafe owner. "There are just two ways to get to Rachel: by authorised aeroplane or via shuttle bus with armed guards," says Koopmans. "Snipers and aircraft patrol the perimeter."
Did they uncover any interesting stories? "Jason works at one of the few stores. He's been there for 11 years and lives in the nearby town of Alamo. His brother-in-law worked at Area 51 for more than 20 years as a union electrician. All he can say is that 99 per cent of Area 51 is underground. He's seen 'blue orbs' moving in cross patterns in the sky, similar to what others have spotted."
Their resulting series captures these characters, living next door to one of the most secretive and talked about military bases in the world. See more of what they uncovered at sirencreatives.com.