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SSG Christopher J. Birdwell, killed in action, Aug. 27, 2012, Afghanistan

“That’s his uniform. I just didn’t want to put it away and hang it in a closet. I wanted just to keep it out. Apparently, it looks funny on a hanger on hook”. From a conversation with Pam Birdwell, mother. (Photograph by Inbal Abergil)

'N.O.K.: Next of kin' — memorializing fallen soldiers

“N.O.K.: Next Of Kin” examines how American families memorialize their relatives killed in military conflict. Inbal Abergil traveled the U.S. to meet with relatives of fallen soldiers and to document their methods of coping through the preservation of personal effects.

Small, private monuments exist in garages, basements, and storage lockers across the U.S. Families must decide which objects to keep, what to take with them or let go of when they move or as time passes.

The interviews that accompany the series exist as further evidence of this loss. Through images and testimonials, “N.O.K.” honors the dead while giving voice to a community of survivors who keep memory alive as they strive to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of loss.

Inbal Abergil is a visual artist and an educator from Jerusalem. Her photographs investigate the aesthetic and societal norms through conceptions of time, memory and place, specifically in cultures where loss is a substantial part of daily life. Her work addresses the lived experience of conflict and trauma. Her work has been exhibited in Northern Ireland, South Korea, Israel, and the U.S. Abergil’s work can be found in such public collections as the Israel Museum (Jerusalem), Fisher Landau Center for Art (New York City), The American University Art Museum (Washington, D.C.) and Haaretz Collection (Tel-Aviv). Among numerous awards, she won the prestigious Pollock-Krasner Photography Grant in 2017. She was an artist in residence at Baxter St. at the Camera Club of New York (2015), where she had her solo exhibition N.O.K.: Next Of Kin (2016). Abergil is an assistant professor of photography at Pace University.

The book is available at Daylight.
N.O.K.: Next of Kin by Inbal Abergil book launch and signings: Nov. 9, 7 p.m. at the Bronx Documentary Center and Nov. 14, 7 p.m. at the Half King Photo Series.

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