Soldier: Mickelson – Length of Service Undisclosed © Suzanne Opton
Soldier: Birkholz – 353 Days in Iraq, 205 Days in Afghanistan © Suzanne Opton
Soldier : Bruno – 355 Days in Iraq © Suzanne Opton
Soldier: Kitchen - 366 Days in Iraq © Suzanne Opton
Soldier: Pry – 210 Days in Afghansitan © Suzanne Opton
Many Wars: Jay Wenk – World War II © Suzanne Opton
Many Wars: Marvin Zacharie – Vietnam © Suzanne Opton
Many Wars: Pia Towle-Kimball – Iraq © Suzanne Opton
Many Wars: Dave Eckert – Iraq © Suzanne Opton
Many Wars: Andrew Cotrel – Iraq © Suzanne Opton
Soldier / Many Wars cover © Suzanne Opton
Suzanne Opton’s new book, Soldier/Many Wars, presents a humanistic and challenging view of America’s fighting force. Remembering the Vietnam-era draft and wondering what would happen to her son if he were drafted, Opton was curious to meet members of American’s volunteer army. She was invited to Fort Drum army base where she photographed soldiers between tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Opton chose to consider another side of the heroic and depict soldiers as vulnerable young men and women. In collaboration with museums and art organizations these images of lone heads with the word Soldier were presented as billboards in eight American cities during the fall of 2008 and spring of 2009.
To examine how soldiers recover from war, Opton produced the Many Wars portraits and interviews. She worked with veterans in treatment for combat trauma from wars since WWII. The subjects wear fabric drapes as a sort of timeless uniform: they could be a boy with a cape, a homeless person, a warrior, or a martyr. The staging and performance aspect of the work suggests that the struggles of coming home from battle are unchanged since the time that Sophocles recorded the tragedies of the Greek wars.
Essays Phillip Prodger and Ann Jones
Decode Books, 2011
The work will be on view at Platform Gallery in Seattle, Jan 5- Feb 15