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Art

Tens of Thousands of Metallic Lawn Ornaments Glisten Inside Nick Cave’s Monumental Installation at MASS MoCA

April 14, 2017

Kate Sierzputowski

Nick Cave, “Until” (2016), all images courtesy of MASS MoCA and the artist.

Composed from tens of thousands of metallic wind spinners, more than 10 miles of crystals, and thousands of other traditional lawn decorations is Nick Cave's installation Until, a work which exists at two levels within the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art's (MASS MoCA) football field-sized exhibition space, Building 5. Illuminated chandeliers peek from within dense clouds of dangling crystals hung from the building’s rafters a story and a half above the floor. Several bright yellow ladders lead to the top of these glistening structures, showcasing crowded platforms that serve as home to dozens of ceramic birds, gilded pigs, colorful flora, and cast iron lawn jockeys.

Collecting the enormous supply of lawn ornaments and decorations for the exhibition was a collaboration between Cave and MASS MoCA. A team of several individuals scoured eBay, thrift stores, and other second hand shops to find previously used materials that would be perfect for the towering installation. The thousands of found objects create a textured experience, one viewing his cloud-like platforms through mirrored kinetic objects. Not all inclusions are intended to dazzle however, as scattered images of guns, bullets, and targets lay within the comforting imagery of opulence and kitsch.

“Formally their [the metallic wind spinners’] reflective quality was important,” Cave shares with Colossal. “To have something that we can see ourselves within as well as something that becomes almost mirage-like. Conceptually, garden spinners are found in our own back yards, so using these everyday objects with images of guns, teardrops and bullets conveys the proliferation of this violence in and around the safety of our homes.”

Cave, an artist best known for his elaborately produced Soundsuits, created the installation as a response to gun violence and policies and race relations in America. The title, Until, sits at the center of two phrases. The first, which lays at the heart of our judicial system, “innocent until proven guilty,” and the second phrase, which is seen to be more commonly practiced, “guilty until proven innocent.”

Cave hopes the exhibition serves a catalyst for these topics to be more readily discussed, as well as a space for change to be motivated. During the run of Until he invited several dancers, singers, poets, and composers to perform their own messages within the work, allowing the visual exhibition to double as a rotating stage.

“By inviting other artists and community members to make their own work within it, the installation becomes a platform for their work and their audiences,” said Cave. “Their particular of sharing their view on the subject may strike a different or more specific chord in some and as such the whole project becomes more effective and reaches more people. This is in service to all of our goals. I also learn from their works the role of my own work.”

A nearly 200-page book centered around the exhibition, Nick Cave: Until which is published by Prestel, will be released on April 28 at MASS MoCA, featuring installation images as well as essays by MASS MoCA curator Denise Markonish, Talking Heads co-founder David Byrne, and Cave himself. It will also feature poetry centered around the justice system by Claudia Rankine and reflections by the head of the Police Board and Task Force on Police Accountability in Chicago, Lori Lightfoot.

The book is available for pre-order on MASS MoCA’s website and Amazon, and can be found in the museum later this month. There will be a book launch in NYC on April 26 at the New York Pubic Library and one at MASS MoCA on April 28. You can visit the monumental exhibition at MASS MoCA through August 2017. Until will then travel to Carriageworks in Sydney in 2018, and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, AR in 2019.

     

 

 



Art Music

Disarm: A Mechanized Orchestra of Instruments Built from Decommissioned Weapons

September 13, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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As part of his ongoing effort to transform weapons into musical instruments, artist Pedro Reyes (previously) constructed a fully mechanized orchestra. Titled Disarm, the collection of eight new instruments were built through a collaboration with several musicians and Cocolab, a media studio in Mexico City.

The team acquired a variety of rifles, pistols, and shotguns seized from drug cartels by the Mexican army and used them to build the musical devices that are controlled by computers and can be pre-programmed to play music. In the video above the Creator’s Project recently sat down with Reyes to learn more about how he “transforms negative instincts into creative instincts.” It’s well worth a watch to see the instruments in use.

You can see more photos of Disarm over at Lisson Gallery in London where it debuted earlier this year. Additionally, many of the Disarm instruments will be at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh starting October 5, 2013 and the artist is also giving a talk on October 1st.

 

 



Art

Urban Herd: Air Rifle BB Taxidermy by Courtney Timmermans

July 11, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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Using thousands of air rifle BBS artist Courtney Timmermans creates impressive taxidermy heads of wild animals. The body of work titled Urban Herd will be on view here in Chicago starting tomorrow at Jean Albano Gallery and will run through August 24th.

 

 



Art Illustration

Harmless Weapons Made of Plants by Sonia Rentsch

May 8, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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In her Harm Less series artist Sonia Rentsch defuses the powers of modern weaponry by constructing guns, grenades and bullets completely from organic objects. The shape and form of each piece are really convincing, yet I also enjoy the obviousness of each plant chosen to resemble various gun parts. If you’re reminded of Sarah Illenberger’s work, you’ll be happy to know Rentsch has had the opportunity to work with Illenberger in Berlin. Take a deep dive into her extensive portfolio of work over on her website. (via not shaking the grass)

 

 



Art Music

Artist Fabricates 50 Functional Instruments from Destroyed Drug War Weapons

October 29, 2012

Christopher Jobson

As part of his latest project Imagine, Mexico City based artist Pedro Reyes acquired some 6,700 weapons that were scheduled to be buried (as is customary in mass weapon disposals) and instead collaborated with six musicians to create 50 working instruments as part of a statement regarding increased gun violence in Mexico. The numerous firearms were cut down, welded and formed into a variety of string, wind, and percussion instruments over a period of two weeks last month. Via his blog Reyes says:

It’s difficult to explain but the transformation was more than physical. It’s important to consider that many lives were taken with these weapons; as if a sort of exorcism was taking place the music expelled the demons they held, as well as being a requiem for lives lost. […] This is also a call to action, since we cannot stop the violence only at the place where the weapons are being used, but also where they are made. There is a disparity between visible and invisible violence. The nearly 80,000 deaths by gun-shot that have occurred in Mexico in the last 6 years, or the school shootings in the US are the visible side of violence. The invisible side is that one of gun trade-shows, neglecting assault rifle bans, and shareholder profit from public companies. This is a large industry of death and suffering for which no cultural rejection is expressed.Guns continue to be depicted as something sexy both in Hollywood and in videogames; there may be actors who won’t smoke on the screen, but there has not been one who would reject the role of a trigger-happy hero.

Surprisingly this is not the artists first project involving the reuse of guns. Back in 2008 he was provided with 1,527 destroyed weapons which he melted down to build shovels to plant 1,527 trees as part of his Palas por Pistolas project. If you liked this also check out the work of Al Farrow. (via my amp goes to 11)

 

 



Art

Al Farrow: New Reliquaries. Religious sites built from ammunition and firearms.

May 3, 2011

Christopher Jobson

San Francisco artist Al Farrow uses ammunition and parts from firearms to build miniature churches, synagogues, and mosques. This is heavy stuff, literally and figuratively. Meighan over at My Love for You just stopped by Catherine Clark Gallery where he’s showing some of his latest work, and captured some awesome shots. The show runs through May 28. (images via my love for you and catherine clark gallery)