Flat Daddy

Members only article

In the back seat of a car, two little boys, one under and one over ten years old, and between them a smiling photographic cut-out— of their father, we are informed— in army battle dress (green/brown camouflage with a tan T-shirt).

At first, of course, we instinctively read the centre image as that of a person, not an image— an element of human perception on which everything here hinges. The disproportionately small size of the image of “daddy,” and the aid of a caption, points us to the heart of this family drama, in which the mother is absent from the frame but is the central figure in the accompanying narrative of the domestic “war at home.” This war front evidences no weapons of war but is militarized nonetheless, especially for those caught up in the folds and fringes of warrior culture.

In the photo the younger boy, on the left, is also in a camouflage T-shirt (green-khaki-white), but with a large, varsity-style number 33 on the front. The older boy, on the right, perhaps fourteen years old, wears a dark-blue T-shirt, too big for his thin frame; there is a prominent American flag blazoned on the shirtfront, its colours vivid against the shirt’s dark blue. This flag image is a larger version of the flag patch visible on the right shoulder of the father’s cut-out photo. These two flags provide the only blocks of red in the image. The older boy’s bright blue jeans are visible in the lower right.

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Published in Photoworks Issue 11, 2008

Commissioned by Photoworks

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