Carrying a stretcher in the rain
Lookout duty at the observation tower
Instruction on hand grenade throwing
Talking to family during a break from basic training
Military kiosk counter
A sniper instructor outside her room
Holding bibles during the swearing-in ceremony
Before the first shooting practice
Outside bar on Alenby Street
Training policewomen
Patrolling camp
After throwing a grenade for the first time
Getting a ride from the base
Relaxing at home
Getting ready
On the train going home
Shopping for groceries
Stepping outside for a cigarette before taking a shower
Guarding the entrance to the shooting range

At the age of eighteen, Israeli girls enter a two-year period in which they will be transformed from girls to women under the Israeli Defense Forces, a rigorous institution where individuality comes second to nationalism. Rather than portraying the soldier as heroic, confident, or proud, Papo’s photographs reveal the soldier and the teenage girl in constant negotiation, caught between two extremes: a soldier who lives on an army base with hundreds just like her, and an individual who wishes to be noticed.

Photographer Rachel Papo, who was serial no. 3817131 during her service in the Israeli Air Force, considers these photographs a bridge between past and present–each is a self portrait that explores the complex range of emotions inherent in all adolescents, showing the vulnerable side of each soldier.

Work by Rachel Papo

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