For the past five years, I have worked with American veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to make staged narrative photographs that depict their individual stories from war and that address their difficulties in readjusting to civilian life. On this particular day, I was on location in Brooklyn, working with former Marine Sergeant Jose Adames.. We were restaging his memory of being injured in a mortar explosion in Iraq and how this memory manifests itself in the civilian world. When Jose came home to New York City, he reacted whenever he heard a garbage truck go over a pothole. To him, it sounded like a mortar exploding. When he hears this deep, echoing sound, images replay in his mind of the night that he was hit. For this reason, the production was orchestrated so that the truck was not moving while Jose was on the set.
I spent more than two weeks scouting for well-formed potholes in the middle of a street where I could also get a permit and control the parking and traffic. As we only had the garbage truck for a few hours, we were on a tight schedule. The whole street was propped for trash day and the pile of domestic items put out for garbage pick-up symbolically alludes to the fact that, after returning home from Iraq, Jose was homeless for five months.