Untitled (Body Count) (Video Still of Digital video projection), Gerald Sheffield

Untitled (Body Count(Video Still of Digital video projection), Gerald Sheffield

Another Day: Camouflage Chaos - Bed (Photograph), Shasha Dothan

Another Day: Camouflage Chaos - Bed (Photograph), Shasha Dothan

PTSD:  PEOPLE’S TRAUMA SHOWINGS DAILY

January 31 to May 15, 2018

The work of Shasha Dothan, a second year MFA student at UCLA and Gerald Sheffield, recent 2017 graduate of the Yale MFA program, represent more than just an artistic interpretation of recurring military conflicts in the Middle East. They address their trauma, while in a state of confusion over what citizenship means in spite of military service to “their country.” Their heritage and their identities evoke varied responses to conventional representations of patriotism and home. The information Sheffield and Dothan provide in contrast to what information is public further clouds and deters “other people” from discussing their trauma and its origin.

 

The artists share great similarities, but also diverge profoundly due to context of place, race and ultimately self.  To a certain extent, Shasha has the option of blending in or disclosing. Conversely, Gerald’s African-American heritage is unavoidably obvious to society. Regardless of their exteriors, both camouflage their deeper identities. Each day it is as though they apply camouflage face paint to infiltrate the “normal” world. They seek to reconcile how they behave in this new space as a citizen, while their identity, recalls a traumatic history and a tainted heritage that cannot be erased.

 

Sheffield and Dothan’s work posit the idea that all of us live with a trauma that is often not discussed or addressed. These works are symbolic of a PTSD experienced not only by veterans of war, as in the case of these two artists, or even terrorist attack survivors or victims of violent crimes. These works are intended to prompt viewers to reflect, question and discuss how we each live with a form of PTSD (People’s Trauma Showings Daily) imposed by the many layers of our own his/her-story.

 

Dothan moved to the United States less than two years ago. Born and raised in Israel, she was obligated to serve two years in the military. “Her story” recently compelled her to re-visit Germany to explore and confront a context which still contains relics of the Nazi regime that plagues her past. Residing now in Connecticut, Sheffield enlisted in the US Army directly out of high school. “His story” is one of a Black man living in an America which still does not provide the genuine equality sought by his ancestors. Their works reflect an exploration of process, in real-time, and a search for ways to reconcile with the past that takes place for these artists on a daily basis. There is a distinct contradiction of reconciling with an ambiguity that creates a constant discomfort, uncertainty and lawlessness in the context of citizenship, membership and ownership of identity.

 

Gerald Sheffield and Shasha Dothan have created works that seek to evoke candid discussion about what they continually struggle to reconcile; their history. This “his/her-story” refers to each one’s heritage; encompassing the history of those from whom they descended and their own individual history, made up of their actions and re-actions to the conditions of their lives and the many contexts in which they live. Though difficult and even traumatic for each to both convey and represent, they portray intimate and unique experiences of patriotism, sacrifice and military service.

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 PTSD: People’s Trauma Showings Daily will run January 31 through May 15, 2018.