Filed under: DC, Review | Tags: (e)merge art fair, Academy at Conner Contemporary, Artist Platform, Chris Burden, Matthew Smith, Nikki de Saint Phalle, Ryan Carr Johnson, Samuel Dylan Scharf, Sophie Calle, William Burrough
There’s a long history of guns in contemporary art, from Chris Burden’s Shoot to Sophie Calle’s ballistic treatment of her lover’s letter in Take Care of Yourself to a myriad points in between. And the connection between guns and painting is no less direct. Nikki de Saint Phalle’s Shooting Paintings and William Burrough’s Shotgun Paintings both used big bad guns to induce painterly marks, though they regarded their guns differently. Burroughs was perhaps more interested in the kinetic response of paint than in his audience’s visceral reaction to the blast. de Saint Phalle was at least equally interested in the violence implicit in her rifle.
Ryan Carr Johnson and Samuel Dylan Scharf | Kline A.D. 2012. Paint on Plywood with bullet holes. 25″ x 37″ x 2.5″
All this, of course, was the last thing on Ryan Johnson‘s mind as he stood at the shooting range, along with fellow American University MFA Sam Scharf, trying to fix a brand new Kel-Tec that was stovepiping. Stovepiping, apparently, happens when a semi-automatic pistol fails to eject its spent bullet casings, clogging its mechanism and rendering the gun, well, something less than semi-automatic. Ryan had purchased it with this very moment in mind, so the pesky malfunction was nothing short of irritating. Sure, he already owned a couple of Glocks, but the longer range of the Kel-Tec would provide better accuracy at greater distances. And since the plan was to shoot at unconventional targets outdoors, an adequate shooting distance was a must. Or at least this is how Ryan had rationalized it — a Kel-Tec can be pricey, sure, but not in the name of safety. And yes, art. — Matthew Smith, Washington, D.C. contributor