Everyone in the Family Feels It, 2011

Digital Photographs

Anthropologist Walter Goldschmidt states, “that with war, as with all matters cultural, the society shapes natural human capacities and potentialities to its accepted purposes, reinforcing some and suppressing others…by systematically rewarding and punishing, by indoctrinating youth, creating role models to be emulated, and honoring those who perform well.” The idea of the “Hero” in the military is celebrated in society. This idea is also evident within traditional family structures; the head of the household being the hero. When the “Hero” is deployed at war, this causes more problems within military families.  

Everyone in the Family Feels It is a series of photographs that explore the missing father figure within the military lifestyle of my sister‘s family. In these photos, subtle details of the powerful masculine influence the Marine father, my brother-in-law has on the young boy, my nephew appear in many of the photos. Although my brother-in-law is deployed in Afghanistan, his absence is honored in many aspects of their lives and lingers in everyday actions. My sister’s struggle with caring for two children by herself is captured during intense ponderous moments that also show the effects of stress on her body and overall character. 

As Freud wrote,“He reproduces it not as a memory but as an action; he repeats it without, of course, knowing that he is repeating... he cannot escape from this compulsion to repeat; and in the end we understand that this is his way of remembering” The absence of the Hero is evident in the cycle of family tragedy. The broken relationship that my sister and I witnessed between our parents is now repeated within my sister’s marriage. My nephew’s understanding of these family dynamics parallels what we sisters experienced as children. The father’s absence affects the whole family.  

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