The Unknown Soldier's Imaginary Daughter

 

Many soldiers have died in wars without their remains being identified. After the First World War, a movement arose to commemorate these soldiers with a single tomb, containing the body of one such unidentified soldier. WIKIPEDIA

                                                                                                                       

SAMPLE WORK: THIRTY-FIVE PORTRAITS OF THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER

 

A soldier poses, wearing a first world war uniform. He has no features. In a sequence of thirty-five images, he is annihilated. He doesn't react to the onslaught.

 

The point of a portrait is to capture a likeness. But this man, by definition, cannot be known.

 

The violence of the injuries contrasts with the formal studio setting. The camera may also be a weapon; the bullets and shells often seem to come from the camera - and viewer's - position.

 

The violence is strangely un-violent. A digital destruction is taking place;  the injuries are almost cartoon like. The damage occurs to an image, not a person.The medium’s ability to capture and preserve the visible world may be under attack. 

 

Eventually, the soldier is obliterated, his clothes crumpling to the floor. It’s like a staged illusion or magic trick. Someone unknown-and from the beginning unknowable-in the end disappears. 

 

So too, with every photograph, given enough time, something that appears to be there, but wasn’t, isn't. 

SAMPLE WORK: A MAN IN 1917 ATTEMPTS TO STAND IN A 1930'S HOUSE

When a soldier dies, his future family tree also disappears. Here a shell-shocked soldier from the first world war is relocated to a time and place which potentially could have existed - his daughter's house.