Jonathan Hollingsworth

What We Think Now

September 1 – October 21 2007

“What We Think Now” was born of modest ambitions.

The project was initially conceived as a 10-image editorial submission for a fledgling youth culture magazine in Los Angeles, where I was living at the time. When I started photographing, George W. Bush had just been re-elected, the War on Terror was not being won in Iraq, more and more soldiers were dying, my friends and family had turned out to the polls in droves, and judging from the ethos of the city, I knew I was not the only one who had misgivings about our nation’s invasion of Iraq.

In late November 2004 I set out with my camera, a stack of poster-board and some markers and began approaching people. One month later, I had accrued a small portfolio of images, which were all rejected by the magazine. My initial goal of getting the work published seemed insignificant, and my early outings only inspired me to keep working. I decided that the work should be a survey of opinions representing people from a variety of demographics, so I traveled to Santa Ana, the beach communities of Orange County, Palmdale, San Francisco, Berkeley and Los Angeles. All of the photographs were shot on the street using natural light and whatever background was immediately available, sometimes yielding amazing compositions and arrangements of color. The majority of the subjects were strangers whom I approached, talked to, and photographed all in a matter of minutes.

I was specifically interested in recording what people my own age had to say about the issue as the burden of war would fall heaviest upon us. I decided that my subjects would be 30-years-old or younger. I wanted to create work which expressed the ideas of individuals, relying solely on their words. I also wanted their ideas to be incorporated in the image, so that persona and opinion were fused into one. The aim of my work was to give my generation a voice, but in doing so, I uncovered mass confusion. So many people misunderstood the connections between the bombing of the World Trade Center, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and the invasion of Iraq. It would be easy to attribute this confusion to stupidity or laziness, but more likely, it seems that people have been duped by the government’s rhetoric.

Ultimately these images reveal a nation and a generation in turmoil. It seems premature to suggest that the tasks of asking questions and recording answers are complete. It might be a long time before we can afford to stop talking about the decision to invade and remake a nation.

– Jonathan Hollingsworth, 2006

Jonathan Hollingsworth is a photographer currently based in Santa Fe, NM. A recent graduate of Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, CA, Hollingsworth’s work has been published in LA City Beat and Orange County Weekly. “What We Think Now” has previously been exhibited at 18th Street Gallery in Santa Monica, UC Riverside California Museum of Photography in Riverside and at College of Santa Fe. He has also exhibited at Center for Digital Art, Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, Otis College of Art and Design, and Arden Gallery in Costa Mesa.