Our National Past-time, or Shooting Gallery, borrows the tropes of a carnival style shooting range, but replaces the traditional silhouette of ducks with photo based cut outs of myself. The work is direct, yet disarming in its playfulness; the use of common tropes allow the installation to transcend artwork and become social commentary.
Growing up in Toronto as a teen in the 80’s, I witnessed the rise of North America’s current mass shooting culture, from a time when gun violence seemed confined to certain “bad neighbourhoods” (which usually meant poor working class communities with a high concentration of immigrants often from the Caribbean) in addition to other urban gatherings, such as: basement parties, clubs, rap and reggae concerts, Caribana, and the closing day of the Ex.
These gun occurrences were ratcheted up to another level of media and public fear if linked to any form of gang related activity, or, met with resigned indignation and sorrow from the victim’s community, when the gun violence was perpetrated by a bad police officer against an unarmed individual (quite often a young Black male often from these same “bad neighbourhoods”).
Needless to say gun violence would lead, as it still does today, to ill-fated talks of gun regulation, which inevitably break down along political lines, with the two camps talking past each other.
By the unconventional and self-deprecating gesture of placing myself as the “sitting-duck” target of some innocuous gunplay, I am hoping for some alternative possibilities around the actual gun violence in our society. At the very least, Our National Past-time, is a call for urgent public discourse and an invitation to engage a pressing social issue through the disarming mediation of play.
I’ve done a number of art pieces since the early 90’s addressing, gun violence, Black on Black violence, and police brutality against unarmed Black men, I’ll be uploading some of these works at some point soon. Feel free to leave a comment below, as well as on my Youtube channel, and Facebook.