28
Mar
08

Jon: Suzanne Opton’s “Soldier”…

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…looking into the eyes of those who have seen the unforgettable.

Soldier Morris

 

“We all experience strategic moments when we feel most alive. These are the moments we will always remember, be they transcendant or horrific. After all, what are we if not our collection of memories? In making these portraits of soldiers, I simply wanted to look in the face of someone who’d seen something unforgettable.”  -Suzanne Opton

 

Soldier Birkholz Soldier Claxton Soldier Dougherty

(click thumbnails for larger image)

 

In part one of her 2006 series, Soldier, artists Suzanne Opton photographed portraits of soldiers who had recently returned home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Each of these photographs captures a similiar image: the head of the subject lying passively on it’s side, cropped in such a way as to eliminate any contextualization (be it their body or surroundings). The soldiers are harshly lit from above by strong white light, perhaps hinting at some sort of divine transcendence.

When initially seeing these images, one of the first thoughts of the viewer is how vulnerable and passive each of the figures seem. The subjects of Opton’s images appear to be sleeping or perhaps even dead. Given the cultural wartime context these pieces were created in, this asthetic is suprisingly jarring.

Opton has taken an extremely violent contextual inspiration and transformed it into something that in the end is actually quite calming and peaceful. By cropping out any presence of a military uniform in these portraits, it is as though Opton is challenging the viewers projected identity (aggresive/violent) of the soldiers. She has transformed them, or rather returned them, to the state of simply being people.

Whether Suzanne Opton’s art is meant to be a supportive pro-soldier statement, or a strong critique of military violence is left up to the viewer to decide.

MORE FROM SUZANNE OPTON

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1 Response to “Jon: Suzanne Opton’s “Soldier”…”


  1. 1 ISABELLA
    March 29, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    DO YOU KNOW IAN WRIGHT? THIS IS IMORTANT FOR ME.. ISABELLA FROM POLAND


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