Presumably, more than any other individual, the American military man feels compelled to embody contemporary Western culture’s normative ideal of masculinity. As an observer, photographer Jason Hanasik was well aware of the hegemonic influence of the military regarding masculinity and he had certainly taken notice of the struggles that most men in general experience when negotiating society’s expectations of it. Even though he had understood the precepts of masculinity since his youth, it was not until a chance road trip to New York with a young Marine that he, says Hanasik, “…realized how much torment and tribulation the notion of a unit can really be for the individual inside of it.”

Jason Hanasik’s photographic project is a visual narrative centering on 4 young men, brothers Steven and Patrick, both Marines, Hanasik who is behind the camera and their mutual friend Josh, who tragically was killed on his first tour of duty in Iraq. The photographs, some strikingly beautiful and others stunningly raw, also include images taken in Iraq by Steven while on deployment there. According to Hanasik, this project “utilizes image-making as a wedge to intervene inside Western culture’s traditions and expectations related to masculinity, class and heroism. As well, it opens up a space for a counter-narrative to exist, focusing on individual experience, vulnerability, and intimacy rather than that which is enforced by the State: an impenetrable unit.”