Shoot Portraits, Not People is an exhibition at the Evoke Gallery in Santa Fe, NM, featuring sculptures and photographs. At first glance, the exhibition seems to celebrate an arsenal of random weapons, from bombs and grenades to rocket launchers set up around a 1947 Willy Jeep, with a machine gun mounted on top. The collection turns out to be a provocative visual illusion: on closer inspection we realize that the M16 assault rifle is an assemblage of Olympus XA camera body, Nikon battery, and a Vivitar tripod and flash; that the main components of an Uzi submachine are two 8mm Kodak Instamatics; a sawed-off shotgun is a Minolta with an Ilford ammunition belt; anti-personnel bombs are encased in Polaroid 420 cameras; while the grenades are 50mm f/2.0 Minolta lenses. Lastly, the Jeep supports a machine gun cobbled up of tripod segments and vintage Instamatics, using Kodak canisters as bullets, and equipped with a Canon grenade launcher. It’s a beautiful comeback for all this equipment dug out in the cemetery of analog photography.
This highly provocative work—mounted in America where guns have been a major issue for a long time, with only too obvious consequences—is the brainchild of two friends, the photographer Jason Siegel and the artist-sculptor Keith d’Angelo. Their sculptures are accompanied by photographic prints showing the objects against white background for best effect, like natural specimens.
It is true that the comparison between a gun and a camera may be self-evident, since they share the vocabulary and the gestures of “loading,” “aiming,” and “shooting.” Relying on this analogy, the two artists created a work that is both realistic and symbolic.
What about the visitors? Weapon aficionados dreaming of acquiring a replica of an M16, policemen taking selfies, and those who appreciate the message. A cross-section of America has come together in this place. The quest for non-violence is a long-term struggle, especially in a country where gun ownership is a right inscribed in the Constitution and defended by powerful, effective lobbies. This exhibition contributes to raising awareness about a subject that is at the root of so many tragedies.
550 S Guadalupe St Santa Fe, NM 87501 U.S.A.
November 24, 2017 to December 24, 2017