“We see soldiers in the media as sort of faceless characters.”In the following paragraphs, the photographer – who herself served as a soldier – shares her story behind the project: “Being born and raised in Israel but based in NYC I wanted to go back and portray the realities of young teenagers going into mandatory service, regardless of their political views or opinions. We see soldiers in the media as sort of faceless characters, or sometimes just as the front of the conflict when unfortunately service in Israel isn’t a choice.
This personal look into their lives speaks more about the image of the soldier and the identity within the uniform, finding personal space in such demanding terms that are mostly male-dominated as well. It is important for me to find a way to vocalize what’s behind the uniforms because when I served I felt unseen.
“It was an opportunity to shine a light on their reality, in my own gaze – personal and intimate, hopeful and glowing.”The professional jobs for girls in the army vary but from the girls I shot there is one journalist working in the culture department at the main Israeli radio station, one is a teacher doing community work with youth in danger and two are filmmakers. My hope was to capture them in a way that will somehow resist the violent idea of the military, looking at their disrupted youth and their teenage boredom as a refusal to become determined on goals they don’t share, within the system. It was an opportunity to shine a light on their reality, in my own gaze – personal and intimate, hopeful and glowing. Separate from the way it is viewed in the media, solely through the lens of war.”
All images © Mayan Toledano