Kristine Potter, Untitled, 2009
Of all the photos in Kristine Potter's "The Gray Line" series, this is the one I keep coming back to. From this untrained photographer's perspective, it at first seems imperfect: improperly exposed or inadequately accounting for the sun's glare. But this lighting is everything. As war can do, it fades out the individual identities of the men who are engaged in fighting. It underscores the soldiers' skill at camouflage and represents a core aspect of the soldiers' jobs: Violence. And it blurs the line between earth (under which these men may be buried if killed in the line of duty, a very real risk) and sky (where the soul ascends after death, as some religious traditions posit).
Potter, whose work is on view at Daniel Cooney Fine Art in New York through Dec. 23, comes from a family that has seen many of its men, although none in the current generation, serve in the military, so she grew up in a culture of orderliness, hierarchy and patriotism, writes Women In Photography. Yet in adulthood, her feelings about the military have become more complex, dealing with broader issues of power and violence, as well as the personal and complicated psychologies of soldiers, who hold toughness, anxiety and vulnerability at the same time. This shot, moreso than Potter's others, seems to embody that complexity.