01 September 2008

More Disturbing News from The Twin Cities

Not long ago I posted on a set of quite remarkable portraits Suzanne Opton has done of Iraq and Afghan war Veterans. Much of the work was done at Fort Drum, which is only about an hour and a half from where I live. She has been displaying the portraits on billboards in cities like Buffalo and Syracuse. In that post I noted, with considerable skepticism, that Opton claims that her work is "art" and denies that it is political. This strikes me as wholly unpersuasive insofar as Opton's work clearly raises pointed questions about the highly asymmetrical distribution of sacrifice imposed by our current wars, and provides subtle evidence of the consequences of war on young men and women who fight.

According to this report in The New York Times others seem to have little trouble identifying Ms. Opton's work as political and so disturbing. Those others control the billboards on which she hoped to display some of her portraits in Minneapolis-St. Paul during the Republican convention this week. Based on their assessment they've decided to revoke a contract with her. Maybe now Ms. Opton might get it a bit more clearly. Showing people in the U.S. the consequences of the unjustified war being waged int their name is political. The effects of one's work on audiences are not easily predictable. Its effect on political operatives and business executives is, however. Of course, some of Opton's work was shown during the Democratic convention in Denver. To the best of my knowledge, everyone who saw it there survived.

This, of course, come on top of other disturbing reports about police and security guards harassing photographers in St. Paul in recent weeks.
Thanks jc!

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