“At an age when social, sexual, and educational explorations are at their highest point, the life of an eighteen-year-old Israeli girl is interrupted.” – Rachel Papo, speaking about her project Serial No. 3817131.
When Rahel Papo served for the Israeli Air Force for her mandatory two years, she was eighteen years old. Fifteen years after her service ended, she returned to the military bases to document the lives of women solders, helping her to understand her own experiences.
“My service had been a period of utter loneliness, mixed with apathy and pensiveness, and at the time I was too young to understand it all. Through the camera’s lens, I tried to reconstruct facets of my military life, hopeful to reconcile matters that had been left unresolved.” – Rachel Papo
“Photographing these soldiers, I saw my reflection; I was on the other side of a pane of glass—observing a world that I had once been a part of, yet I could not go back in time or change anything. It felt like a dream.” – Rachel Papo
“The photographs in this project serve as a bridge between past and present—a combination of my own recollections and the experiences of the girls who I observed. Each image embodies traces of things that I recognize, illuminating fragments of my history, striking emotional cords that resonate within me. In some way, each is a self-portrait, depicting a young woman caught in transient moments of introspection and uncertainty, trying to make sense of a challenging daily routine. In striving to maintain her gentleness and femininity, the soldier seems to be questioning her own identity, embracing the fact that two years of her youth will be spent in a wistful compromise.” – Rachel Papo
The book of Rachel Papo’s project Serial No. 3817131 is available through powerHouse.