From Resource Magazine: "Hector Rene enlisted in 2007 and, not long after boot camp, he celebrated his twenty-first birthday in Iraq. He has traveled all over the world as a U.S. soldier, and while some soldiers wish to quickly get through their service time, Rene has used this opportunity to document the world unfolding around him.
The reality of the American military and the lifestyle of a soldier have clearly been separated by the media’s portrayal of these heroes. Distancing the public from a true insider’s view of these institutions, Rene has focused on documenting his surroundings as well as developing more artistic concepts of what he’s experienced. His work includes the iconography behind the military, the day-to-day life of a soldier and the dichotomy of what it means to be a soldier in modern times. Today, we connected as he just re-enlisted this spring for a second term.
What are some of the topics at large in your work and what are the “real life” details that you like to focus on?
I take photos of people, places and things in an attempt to provoke a dialogue that confronts, challenges and juxtaposes the general notions of what it means to be an American. I hope not to answer any questions, but to raise the questions that have been excluded from the conversation.
Some of my photos have been on the Army webpage, or accompanying articles I’ve written. Those are more utilitarian and function as a visual communicator or news coverage. But what compels me to make a particular photo is where I begin to put my two cents in. The politics of it all is what fascinates me—the military as means to a certain way of life. I typically photograph the demographics I identify with: Latinos, immigrants, Veterans and the working class. I like to use the camera as a way to explore and document my own American identity as well as that of others..." (For the full interview and photos, click here)
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