Numerous are the artists whose work deals with weapons. The fascination we apparently all have for the life ending power of such tools seems to be an inspiration for the arts. For some the attraction lies in the technological design of the weapons, to me that is comparable to the liking of the nuclear cloud, since it looks so good. More often than not work that stems from such fascinations presents a single sided view on guns. Boring. On the completely other side – that one where all guns are being despised since they are weapons, work is as single sided, and thus not interesting neither.
More interesting work deals with the ambiguities of guns or weapons in general. Whether that be because guns are being recycled into ploughshares, or we do experience the consequences of the use of guns, these approaches are a step away from the single minded view. Plenty examples can be found at the special tumblr Art with Guns. In the following I’ll touch on the work of a few artists that stand out: Cornelia Parker
being one of them. She made work as diverse as a miniature embryonic gun to a giant gun leaning unto a tree in the middle of a beautiful forest. Why she does all that? Read an article here.
Victor Mitic is a second one. He designs sculptures slash paintings by using bullets. Some examples of his work here and the making of one of his paintings here. Thirdly there is Baptiste Debombourg who doesn’t use real guns, but staple guns to make beautiful wall decorations. He claims he isn’t interested by the idea of warfare behind using guns, but sees himself in a line of traditional engraving artists, see more here
Fourthly, and the reason for this blogpost, there is my friend Art van Triest. As an Utrecht based artist Art works with guns for quite some time now. I remember us doing a workshop on the International Day of Peace on the attraction of violence and the differences in that attraction between boys and girls on a school – and how we spent hours just shooting the little bullets of his guns whilst discussing the workshop structure. It helped, trust me. Now he is up for a solo exhibition here in Utrecht. In the press release he says this about his fascination: “The image of the gun is reviled and revered, it is linked to dictators but also to peace armies. My works’ content lies in what they achieve, what is the effect of them on the viewer, are they amused, are they shocked? And what does that say about themselves? I am not trying to make a statement about guns, in terms of pacifism or violence. I am pragmatic in this and just take the image and use it as I like.” How he does that? See for yourself at the exhibition centre Das Spectrum or at Art’s website. From the 15th of June on.
More idealistic in her approach to guns, and she is not alone in this, is Sacha Constable. She – as the fifth and last artist in this post – takes the biblical phrase literally. With her Peace Project Art Cambodia she recycled weapons into furniture. How comfortable that furniture is? No clue. How threatened I felt when walking in front of Art van Triest’s platoon installation? I remember too well.