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Gettysburg Readdressed

© Giles Price

These aerial views of battlefields show soldiers advancing in formation and fallen bodies in calligraphic patterns. Initially Price was drawn to the Gettysburg re-enactment by the opportunity to make an image of “Pickett’s Charge - the final decisive battle, which turned the course of the war and therefore history, as we know it.”

Price was fascinated by the concept of capturing an historical moment from an era before aerial images,” the military satellite or drone view..” were possible. “Gettysburg was one of the first historical events captured by the then new medium of photography.” Price used modern equipment and shot the Pickett’s Charge pictures from a helicopter.

Price’s aerial photographs of green battlefields, littered with bodies are seemingly choreographed by titans. He shows the jarring clash between the spectators in their bright shorts and t-shirts and the re-enactors. By placing the audience in the foreground, sometimes seated on bleachers, we see that the spectators outnumber the participants, exposing the discrepancies and artifice of the staged presentation and “questioning how we examine and digest war in the modern age.”

Price states that “The images from above reduce the re-enacted battle scenes to something that resembles toy soldiers on a board. This aspect of play and playing war enabled me to focus on the people who inhabit the roles of historical figures, both famous and not, who fought in the battle.”

Price shot a series of straightforward, color portraits of reenactorsoutfitted in period clothing. He sought to expose the intrinsic character of the sitter rather than emphasize their costume. By choosing to place the Confederate soldiers against blue, and the Union soldiers against grey background, the uniforms stand out visually against the opposite color, as he reminds us of the resulting unity of the states.

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