Shock and Awe
Performance by Ethan Rafal
A twelve-year, autobiographical project examining the relationship between protracted war and homeland decay, Shock and Awe is a meticulously crafted image, text, and found object journal that blurs the line between author and subject, and personal and authoritative histories. Completed over countless years traveling the United States, the project pulls from the traditions of documentary photography and writing set on the American road.
The Shock and Awe Book Tour returns the journal to the people and places depicted, bringing author, subject, and viewer into an exploration of the total meaning of the work. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the project, the performance of Shock and Awe is equal parts story-telling, show-and-tell, and group discussion, presented with ample cast-iron pie, whiskey.
Borrowing from American folk traditions, Shock and Awe is a performance of first-person authorship. Balancing sincerity, humor, the project unfolds in real-time, foregrounding the fraught transformation of memory into document, providing a vehicle to revisit this shared period since 2001 - simultaneously fading from memory, yet not cleanly historicized - and radicalize agency over emerging, dominant Histories.
About Ethan Rafal:
Ethan Rafal is an artist and photographer based in San Francisco. His work deals with the individual and collective experience of violence, and the ways in which subsequent representations of violence inform personal and national mythologies. Photography is an essential ingredient in his practice, due to the unique relationship between image and violence, but his work employs performance, installation, video, new-media, and social-practice methodologies. He teaches, mentors, helps run an art space, and collaborates with Art For a Democratic Society in the Bay Area, where he has been based since 2007. He attended Reed College.