NK Gallery, Boston, MA – May 2012
Trepanation: the face of battle; variations on an ancient theme… I was a warrior, once. Young then, well educated and trained by the best the Army had to offer in all of the skills that distinguish the infantryman, airborne and Ranger, from the rest, I humped, with my fellow grunts, the frozen mountains along the DMZ in Korea and the steaming, dank jungles of Vietnam. Always alert and ever vigilant to the slightest anomaly that might suddenly end or alter a life, those of us who went outside the wire down range were, in fact, changed forever, yet unaware of the alterations within us. The changes, invisible, save to a close few who knew us before deployment, frequently burrowed deeply, hidden in the dark folds of quotidian chores and obligations where they might remain submerged and suppressed. Or they might erupt to manifest themselves unpredictably. Mine found a voice in the form of sculpture.
Much has evolved since I retired from the battlefield. In subsequent wars, the terrain, the missions, the equipment, and the enemy are all different. What has been a constant of warfare for millennia and remains so for the warriors of any society who are sent to act where diplomacy fails is the personal toll, the aftereffects and the protracted personal and social consequences of combat duty.
No one who has “seen the elephant” is unchanged by it. No one.
This work tries to focus attention on some facets of that toll. The links from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), to concussive injury (TBI), to trepanation, to tinnitus are real. The toll is real. It evanesces out to infinity.
Ken Hruby, 2012