Michael Perrin, 2008
Digital C-Print, Dimensions Variable
High School Military
The JROTC work grew from my own experience with military recruiting in high school and my school's use of a local army recruiter as its disciplinary administrator. I spent quite a bit of time with him during his stay there and slowly found myself going through the military's recruiting process. Ultimately I chose a different path, but the effect that proverbial fork in the road had on me is the origin of The JROTC body of work.
The JROTC photographs focus attention on the subject's youth and highlights the tension between their projected sense of confidence and the natural vulnerability of their age. The images can be seen as portraits of stoic young men, imbued with a nascent sense of strength and leadership or the students can seem like uneasy children trying to act poised in ill-fitting military uniforms. It's this disconnect in perception where the strength of the JROTC work lies.
Shot in NYC at an all male Jesuit High School these portraits raise many questions: at what age does critical thinking begin, bringing with it the freedom to make informed choices for oneself? Where is the line between education and indoctrination?