Ashley Gilberston is a name you will be hearing a lot of in the future. In case you missed it in the NY Times Magazine on Sunday, Ashley had a series of heartbreaking images that accompanied the article, The Shrine Down the Hall, written by Dexter Filkins, about the bedrooms of America’s young war dead have left behind. The series is called Bedrooms of the Fallen.
These bedrooms once belonged to men and women who died fighting in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. These fallen men and women were blown up by IEDs, RPGs, hand grenades and suicide bombers. They were shot down in ambushes and by snipers. They died in helicopters, in humvees, and in tanks. It all took place thousands of miles away from home, and the country they fought to defend.
The purpose of this project is to honor these fallen – not simply as soldiers, marines, airmen and seamen, but as sons, daughters, sisters and brothers – and to remind us that before they fought, they lived, and they slept, just like us, at home.
Bedrooms of the Fallen was conceived in 2007 as a way to memorialize soldiers and marines who died in Iraq. It was expanded to include casualties from Afghanistan in 2009. The project is a work in progress, and ongoing. The initial goal is to photograph forty bedrooms, and publish a book of the work. If your family has an intact room, and would like to be involved, please visit the participate page.
Ashley has many other insightful and serious projects that deal with the world we live in, whether is be war, examing veterans issues, or effects of the economy. He spent a year in Vienna photographing the rituals about birth and death in his series, Vienna: The first and last breath. His book, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, chronicles his experience with the Iraq War. He is a young Australian freelance photographer living in New York City with his wife and child. I would like to express a personal thank you to Ashley for his sensitivity and ability to take a hard look at things the rest of us have a difficult time facing.
As I was typing these captions, I kept thinking about my own children and what I was doing on the days that these soliers died. Jack Sweet died on my son’s birthday and it brought tears to my eyes thinking about what Jack’s family was experiencing on that day.
Additional images have been removed for licensing issues…if you would like to see more of Ashley’s images, please go here.
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