Continuing through February 11, 2012
Platform Gallery is occupied by American soldiers staring out from two series of large-scale color photographs. In "Many Wars," veterans (several men, one woman) of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam are draped in unhemmed pieces of fabric. They resemble shabby, broken superheroes. "Soldiers" is a series of intimate close-ups of young, buzz-cut men with their faces resting on one cheek. One can make out skin texture, eye color, blemishes, and stubble.
Opton captures her models as they were waiting to be photographed, so these portraits are especially unguarded. What better way to read a stranger’s face than when he doesn’t feel he’s being observed? Instead of strong, active soldiers, these men are rendered as vulnerable personalities. The eyes are staring (though one red-headed soldier has his eyes closed), the striking faces wear mostly blank expressions, and one can only guess at the thoughts and memories swimming within these soldier’s minds.