Once upon a time I was a firearms instructor. How a kid from the burbs of New Jersey, who had never even held a real gun until he was well into his 30’s ended up moonlighting as a Range Safety Officer and got into competitive shooting is a story unto itself (not this one). Fast forward a few years, and I found myself teaching light rifle courses at a gun range in Manhattan of all places.
Not too long ago, I was approached by a friend-of-a-friend who needed some help with a shooting related project. He was one half of Type A, an artist collaboration between Adam Ames and Andrew Bordwin. Their website states, “Using a variety of media, Type A explores the ways in which men compete, challenge and play, and the resulting social and psychological imbalance… The results of their works range from psychologically disarming to profoundly absurd.” I said, “Sign me up!”
And thus I donated my time and came to be involved with Type A’s project, Trigger (2011), shown at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Connecticut, USA. Aldrich Museum director Richard Klein states on the museum website, “Trigger takes us deep into society’s collective unconscious, provocatively exploring the two contrasting sides of America’s love affair with guns: fear and recreation.”
Trigger consists of a series of photographs that are printed and sold as actual commercial shooting targets. My involvement with the project included demonstrating proper firearms safety and handling to those involved, and helping to acquire the necessary permits and prop firearms that would be used on New York City streets. I also ended up being the “bad guy” on several of them.
Fast forward again another year, and the street scene targets are still making waves. The “Trigger” project aside, many of their targets have become quite popular, and I’m told are some of the best selling targets Law Enforcement Targets produces. Many of them were for sale at a recent NRA event that got some press in the form of a Buzzfeed.com story entitled “20 Somewhat Disturbing Targets You Can Buy at the NRA Convention.” (Type A did not produce the “Zombie Robber Target,” which merited extra press for looking too much like President Obama.)
As for me? Well, I appear twice on Buzzfeed’s list for being the “bad guy” on two separate New York targets. Most notably, I was referred to as “Hipster with Gun.”
I think I prefer the actual target name better: “Urban Street Violence USV-10”.
Type A set out to challenge all of us with “Trigger”, and they’ve succeeded. The comment section for Buzzfeed’s “Disturbing Target” story is humming with debate.
The commercial side of the project is clearly a success as well. The decades-old targets these replace are a welcomed update by gun owners and range operators who were undoubtedly looking for change.
I will admit to being thrown a bit existentially as well. It’s strange being featured on a popular target, where people hang up your image, take aim at you and fire. Nonetheless, I’m glad to have been a part of the exercise, even if I ended up being branded as a hipster in the process.
Just don’t call me a hipster to my face.
As Jean-Paul Sartre once said: “Words are loaded pistols.”
— end it —
All photos Courtesy of Crewe, except . . .
Lead-in Image Courtesy of Type A
Split-Frame Photo Courtesy of Crewe (first image) and Nick Demilio (second image)
“Hipster with Gun.” Photo (AKA Urban Street Violence USV-10) Courtesy of Type A