Suzanne Opton: Soldier, Many Wars

Overview

In the two series collected in this volume, Soldierand Many Wars, photographer Suzanne Opton (born 1954) photographs a range of American soldiers close up, with their heads resting on tabletops, and American veterans draped in cloth blankets. The subjects of the Soldier series are all young, active-duty soldiers from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and the photographs were presented as billboards in nine American cities from 2008 through 2010. Reviewing them for The New York Times, photography critic Vince Aletti ...

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Overview

In the two series collected in this volume, Soldierand Many Wars, photographer Suzanne Opton (born 1954) photographs a range of American soldiers close up, with their heads resting on tabletops, and American veterans draped in cloth blankets. The subjects of the Soldier series are all young, active-duty soldiers from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and the photographs were presented as billboards in nine American cities from 2008 through 2010. Reviewing them for The New York Times, photography critic Vince Aletti wrote: "The posture is vulnerable and startlingly intimate, as if these young men and women were facing someone in bed or on a stretcher... Opton catches soldiers both on guard and off, looking out and inward simultaneously, and we can only imagine what they're thinking, what they've done, and what they dread." The project received extensive press coverage and even sparked a heated debate about America's image of the military. The Many Wars series presents portraits of veterans from American wars over the past 70 years. Through interviews by the photographer, we learn how the wars have affected their lives. Both bodies of work were selected by Martin Paar for the Brighton Photo Biennial in 2010.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Opton (Loose Change) offers mannered but moving portraits of American veterans from WWII to Afghanistan (with the curious omission of the Korean War) who have experienced combat trauma. Each photo is accompanied by the soldier's brief description of his or her wartime experience. In the "Many Wars” section, the vets—conspicuously emoting trauma—are trussed in robes, giving them the air of saints or Roman senators. For example, Marvin Zacharie, a Native American Vietnam War vet, looks suspicious and defiant, with hands clenched in a pugilistic pose, as though he can't stop fighting. In contrast, the "Soldiers” section features only the faces of veterans of the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, as they lie on tables like spent schoolchildren. The portraits, all shot in 2003–2004 and displayed on billboards in eight cities, are extraordinary close-up and intimate, but the biographical data is vague and impersonal. While the short essays are thoughtful and appreciative, more background and discussion about the soldiers would have been welcome from Opton herself, who has an amazing ability to unconventionally and memorably profile her subjects "up close and personal.” (Sept.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780983394204
  • Publisher: Decode Books
  • Publication date: 8/31/2011
  • Pages: 104
  • Product dimensions: 9.70 (w) x 12.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

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