State of the Union

When I was a kid, I’d spend whole days arranging toy soldiers and then narrate the battle to whatever audience I could find. Photographing Civil War re-enactors was a grown up version of this childhood game. The seeds for State of the Union took root while I read Tony Horwitz’s Confederates in the Attic, an exploration of the South’s abiding fixation with the Civil War. Yet, much of Civil War history—specifically its battle sites—have been overrun by freeway expansion, housing developments, shopping malls and all the other hastily erected constructs of consumer culture. State of the Union juxtaposes an idealized Civil War embodied by period re-enactors with the base commercialism of contemporary life. The portraits in this series were taken over the course of a year (2010) on the actual sites of battles in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Georgia and Kentucky. In these pictures,the ghosts of Confederate and Union soldiers have come back to the places they once inhabited so fiercely, challenging us to reflect on our past and how we arrived here, on the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
Photography portrays conflicting truths. The re-enactor hunkered down in a snow bank is vividly true to the past, yet his battlefield is a parking lot. This simultaneity of past and present, of having and not having, makes the photograph the ideal expression of nostalgia.


About the photographer
Gregg Segal studied photography and film at California Institute of the Arts. After detouring through film and an MFA from New York University in dramatic writing, Segal returned to photography with a writer’s sense of theme and irony. His photography has been recognized with awards from American Photography, Communication Arts, PDN and the Society of Publication Designers. Segal’s portraiture is regularly featured in Time, Fortune, Wired, and ESPN. State of the Union is currently on exhibit at the O. Winston Link Museum (Roanoke, VA) and None of the Above opens at Blue Sky Gallery (Portland, OR) in September.





This is a unique website which will require a more modern browser to work!

Please upgrade today!