DC at Night

DC at Night

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Armed and Aiming for Serious Thought

In Colorado last month, a lone gunman in body armor, his hair dyed a wild orange-red, burst into a theater, opened fire, and killed 12 and injured 58 more theatergoers. In Washington, after perfunctory prayers and condolences, both Democratic and Republicans leaders were silent on the issue of violence.

Earlier this month in Wisconsin, an Army veteran who performed in a hate punk band, strolled into a Sihk temple, opened fire, and killed 6 and injured 4. In Washington, prayers, condolences, and silence on the violence.

Last week, in Washington, a lone man who volunteered at The DC Center for the LGBT Community, armed with a gun and a bag of 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches, entered the Family Research Council in downtown DC, shot and wounded a security guard, but was apprehended before he could cause further harm. Again, from the White House to Capitol Hill, silence on the violence.

But apparently, although the Corcoran Gallery of Art is within view of the White House and within easy walking distance of the Capitol, the self-imposed political silence on statements about violence doesn't apply to artists who are exhibiting work there.

An exhibition, entitled Manifest: Armed, which is the inaugural show in the new Manifest series, features a trio of artists whose challenging, thought-provoking work is definitely connected to both the allegorical and frighteningly literal world of guns, weapons, and violence.

As you enter Gallery 31 where the exhibit is housed, you will be greeted by a display of meticulously crafted white paper guns, hanging from the ceiling and arrayed on the floor like an arsenal., which is appropriate since the entire installation is entitled "Arsenal."

Artist Sarah Frost, the creator of the ghostly paper guns, has gathered online instructional videos from YouTube in which young boys teach viewers how to make elaborate and detailed models from white paper, tape, and scissors. The models range from precise reproductions of popular guns in circulation to fantasy weapons found in video games such as Halo and Mass Effect.

The most conceptually complicated project on display is "FireSaleTM"  by Colin Beatty and Craig Smith, who operate as the collective SmithBeatty. The project involves purchasing a gun, disassembling it and mailing its pieces to “33 stakeholders, including museum directors, art curators, artists, university professors, lawyers and a weapons manufacturer president.” The pieces are defined as shares in a corporation and beautifully packaged into sturdy cases. Recipients aren’t asked whether they want to participate, and when the collective issues a call on the shares — the gun pieces — the participants can ignore the whole thing or return the gun parts as asked, which are then reassembled.The inevitable “missing” pieces are manufactured using a 3-D printer and then reassembled. The art comes from the documentation of the entire process.
The glock apart
The glock case

Julian Oliver’s “Transparency Grenade” uses a small computer, wireless antenna and microphone — inside a translucent, grenade-shaped case — to capture (theoretically) anything that is floating around on wireless signals (and ambient noise) wherever it is “detonated.” The data are then  uploaded to a server where they “can be mined for information,” according to a Corcoran description of the object.

Tales, Tidbits, and Tips
So what does the Corcoran hope to accomplish with the exhibition, which is running until Sept. 2? "We hope that the confrontational and politically charged themes of the exhibition lead to an urgent and constructive conversation about our artistic, political, and technological climate," says Director of College Exhibition Joseph Hale. In other words, the exhibtion seems to be screaming let's break the silence on violence.

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