In The Green Zone: November 2007
"Hanasik’s eye is empathic; it is not a politically critical eye that is summing up the one-dimensional cardboard cut out expectations of the male American Marine. He has managed to puncture the façade, imaging men that are struggling with a continued attachment to their chosen identity and purpose. They are in crisis, a crisis of faith, intention or selfhood that only the unwarranted death of someone too young can throw us into. They are experiencing a disillusionment and trauma that simply needs to be lived through in hopes of getting to the other side. Hanasik has labored over a nuanced investigation of inter personal relationships and has arrived at a complex and intimate psychic history of individuals and institutions. It is fairly understood that feelings accommodate memory, that how we think and feel about something creates a shape-shifting experience around how we process, remember and record it as a memory. Then the inverse must also be true, that memories accommodate feeling; the loop always closes with not a tactile truth but rather a set of triggers, emotions that are translucent envelopes for experience.
The confines of masculinity have always inspired complicated and confusing feelings and actions. Masculinity is the unmarked social norm that all gendered and sexual identities are positioned against and with, rendered almost invisible in its reduction, refinement and privileged position of non-otherness. It is also equally hyper-visible, claustrophobic, anxiety-ridden and burdened with conformity, its egocentric fragility barely scathed and deconstructed despite decades of gender scholarship. There are such profound expectations placed on us to deliver our emotions within a gendered social norm, and nothing could possibly be less flexible in terms of gender expression and individuation then the military identity. A brotherhood built on overblown expectations, a working class masculinity that promises escape and delivers conformity within a strident caste system. This is where it matters to me that Jason Hanasik has been friends with his subjects most of his life, that they share a working class military childhood. Where it matters to me that Hanasik is queer and that his subjects are not. It matters because I come to understand his subjects as a surrogate for his own coming of age narrative. I believe it would be an oversimplification for someone to consider this work simply as a queering of the military male stereotype. Hanasik’s portrayal of these young men at this particular juncture in their lives and careers is a vehicle for his own grief and self-empowerment; it is both a relating to and refusal of the outcome of these profound expectations and limitations of masculine identity."