In my previous two posts (one on The Void and one on Silhouette) I have reflected on the ways in which photographer Garrett O. Hansen’s series of works collectively called “HAIL” both represent and misrepresent gun culture.
For the final works in this series, “Memorial,” Hansen uses 12 panels each to depict the actual monthly gun homicides in Chicago and Kentucky in 2016. As he reflects, “This work acknowledges and lays bare the heavy price of having a heavily armed civilian population.”
Not surprisingly, I learned of Hansen’s work through a story in the Michael Bloomberg-funded, anti-gun violence news/advocacy outlet, The Trace. Although I found Hansen’s works interesting (The Void) and even compelling (Silhouette), in the end his work, and The Trace’s coverage of it, follows a very common anti-gun narrative.
That narrative structure moves from law abiding citizens engaging in a lawful activity of having fun shooting at targets at a gun range to homicidal violence involving guns. But what real connection is there between Hansen’s friends shooting the targets he uses to compose Silhouette and the homicides depicted in Memorial?
Or to put it more personally, what real connection is there between me shooting guns at the range with my son and his foreign exchange student and someone getting shot and killed?
Visually, wow do we get from this: