Like it or not, guns are as American as Happy Meals and maxed-out credit cards, so making them the theme of a group exhibition invites all kinds of timely and biting cultural criticism.
The pieces in "The Gun Show: No Background Check Required" at reZurrection Gallery in Tempe are mixed -- some very good, others very bad. The most successful ones show our culture's alarmingly casual attitude toward violence by putting guns and other weapons into ridiculously normal settings.
Persian Princess Play Set by Elkanah (one name, like Cher) places a real pistol and hand grenade alongside the plastic tiara, earrings and hot pink feather boa of a little girl's dress-up set. All are painted silver and bedecked with plastic gems, turning the weapons into just two more toys meant to instruct a child about the adult she's supposed to become.
Lou Oates' tinted digital photo of a prim Victorian woman posing with an arsenal of weapons shows the irony of our culture's simultaneous fear of sex and veneration of violence. It's a visual belly laugh at a value system bordering on schizophrenic, where a woman's body is deemed more dangerous and offensive than the hunting rifle at her side.
Maya Allcott suggests an explosive denial lurks beneath the sunny right-wing faade of Pax Americana with a mixed-media piece depicting Lynne Cheney sitting next to the prone body of hubby Dick. A gun lies on the floor next to the downed veep, and Lynne nervously peruses a book titled Pleasant Thoughts.
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