Paul Seawright

These new photographs bring together the two major themes of my practice: contemporary cities and the representation of conflict. Volunteer extends previous work, interrogating how contemporary conflict might be represented beyond the battlefield, without recourse to drama-centric imagery. Volunteer is a survey of sorts: landscapes from today’s fraying, centreless post 9-11 North American cities.

Each photograph was made at the location of a military recruiting station. Starting in Texas, the highest recruiting state in the US, I visited over 500 military-recruitment offices in 15 states.

The images comment not just on the ongoing war and the battle to recruit new soldiers, but the contemporary North American city: a landscape littered with thrift stores, gun dealerships, fast food outlets, nightclubs, car dealerships, strip malls and pawn shops.  It is in these spaces on the margins of small towns and cities that the recruiters move amongst the unemployed, immigrants, ethnic minorities and students to find the volunteers of tomorrow.

— Paul Seawright