Troop 222. 2014. Gum Bichromate Prints.
To me, photographs are an extension of my own memory, used to recall things I have long forgotten. Our mind can only hold so much information before things start to disappear from our memories. I feel the necessity to take photographs of everything, because I want to be able to remember every moment of my life and the lives of the people around me. . I find portraits easier to relate to than any other type of photography because of their human element. I enjoy being able to question what the person pictured is thinking, feeling and what they have experienced.
Troop 222 is a book about my grandfather’s concealed memories from his time while serving in the Vietnam War. My grandfather rarely tells stories from this period in his life, so I have always been kind of curious about it. One day, I was rummaging through my grandfather’s photo box and found some pictures of him and some friends he had during the war. After picking out a few of my favorite pictures, I laid them out on the table and I told him they would be great for my book. To my surprise, he started telling me a few stories about the people in the pictures and that he would be happy to let me use the pictures.
I reprinted the photographs using the Gum Bichromate and Gum Oil process. Each of the prints has five layers: van dyke, yellow, green, brown, and black. These colors represent my grandfather’s camouflage of his memories from the Vietnam War. In Troop 222, the images are arranged in diptychs. For example, in one of the diptychs, there is a picture of three men standing in the middle of a street in Germany, standing at attention, but in the photograph next to it, they are in the same street, and one of the men is choking another. The humor in some of these images brings lightness to a situation that would otherwise be seen as solemn and reminds us that the soldiers who serve for us are still human, just like everybody else.