Ethan Rafal ~ California

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Artist: "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, collaborates with Art For a Democratic Society in the Bay Area, and has recently started an imprint to publish so-called 'difficult' work."


Shock and Awe, Special Edition
By Ethan Rafal
San Francisco: Ethan Rafal, 2015. Special edition of 100.

Box: 14.25 x 14.25”. Materials: 100-year-old redwood, Douglas fir, oak; glass; pigment transfer print; galvanized steel; UV non-absorbent paint; LED. Sliding top is glass with archival pigment transfer print. Contents: LP record; puzzle; book.

LP Record: recorded by Tiny Telephone, The Farm, San Francisco. Live performance: Shock and Awe. Manufactured: Long Beach, California. In wooden sleeve (produced with pine and paint). LP cover: screen printing by Chris McNally Drawing Services.

Puzzle: 1,000 pieces, 20 x 28” finished. Image: Freda Rafal, Queens, New York. In pouch of raw canvas and gros-grain with sewing and implementation by Dana Gleason. Screen printing by Chris McNally Drawing Services.

Book: Shock and Awe: Signed First Edition. San Francisco: IHA Editions, 2015. 10.25 x 10.25"; 152 pages with 123 illustrations. Half-bound in cloth over boards with strap closure and foil stamping.

Ethan Rafal: "It was my goal for this edition to be a house for memory – a means to engage history-making. Opening the box is a kinesthetic experience of the American Mythology.

"The glow of the West Virginia-crafted white glass is perfect — the unique, transfer prints feel something between a bus advertisement and an icon built from stained glass. Inside, we created a soft pouch for the puzzle, which also depicts Freda Rafal, Queens, New York. After years of experimentation, we perfected the design of the wooden record sleeve — housing an LP, a live-recording of the performance of Shock and Awe on the #shockandawebooktour. This recording literally and metaphorically keeps the Shock and Awe — First Edition and puzzle in safe keeping.

"Removing these contents reveals the edition’s true potential — illumination. The light switch and electronics are built into the wood itself, the box is secured by a steel baseplate. While rough on the outside, the inside is finished with UV-non-absorbent titanium paint — releasing the maximum volume of light in the most even manner possible.

"The total combination of materials, and the experience of using them, is a harmony of content and form."

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Shock and Awe
By Ethan Rafal
San Francisco: IHA Editions, 2015. First Edition.

10.25 x 10.25"; 152 pages with 123 illustrations. Half-bound in cloth over boards with strap closure and foil stamping.

IHA Editions: "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.

"This journal was the source for the
Shock and Awe — First Edition, a meticulously crafted reproduction completed over the course of several years. "

Ethan Rafal, afterword: "I started collecting material for this book shortly after September 11th, 2001. It would be five years before I realized what I was doing. By the end of 2011, a hand-made journal had taken shape, and became the blueprint for the book ...

"The works in this book - image, text, found materials, are presented chronologically (almost); as they were made, as the events they describe took place, as they were found. Dates are mostly excluded, as I find them to be distracting, limiting."


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Page update: 03.30.17


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