For the past ten years, Ethan Rafal has been travelling the country, documenting the nation’s struggle to come to terms with 9/11 and the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
A former skate videographer, Rafal opted to abandon his first love to pursue photography in an attempt to grapple with the traumatic events that changed the nation. For much of the country, the last decade of war has largely been a distant experience, especially in light of the continuing economic problems at home, but for Rafal, the war hits much closer to home.
In Shock and Awe, Rafal collects five years of photos taken after 9/11. As he explains it, “Five years later, after photographing war and losing several friends to it, I rediscovered this early material. It held acute personal significance, as it was the remains of my youth. But, I also believed it might provide a window into the early stages of national moral and corporeal collapse that seemed everywhere around me. I decided to engage this project full-time. I wanted to revisit the country I had once known. I wanted to tell the unheard story of the decaying American homeland and its relationship to war.”
“My subjects are as much a reflection of myself as they are products of this time. But, I too am a product of this time, and it has been my primary task to reclaim my story and myself from the fog that is the last decade,” he adds. “Ultimately, this work is autobiographical, and it is my hope that in my search you see yourself, too.”
Rafal is currently raising funds on Kickstarter to print the first edition of his book, which will recreate the look and feel of his original hand-made journal.
For more information on the project, check out the video below and if you’d like to help out, head over to Kickstarter and donate what you can now, but hurry, the fundraising deadline is today at midnight.