Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Pink Rifles and Kitchen knives

The Guardian has been showcasing photos by the Dutch artist An-Sofie Kesteleyn of American children posing hard faced with child sized rifles in shocking pinks and blues. It is a nifty art project and the images are unsettling, especially knowing the weapons may be small but are real all the same.  The article references accidental killings and  the bizarre American certainty they need guns for protection. It is familiar stuff, but all a very long way away. There are things closer to home that worry me far more. Let's unpack this a little.

The pink rifles may be distasteful to many, but growing up I spent many happy hours shooting air pistols and rifles. If somebody had given me a .22 rifle I would have been delighted. From what the article says these kids fire their little guns at rifle ranges, probably a lot safer than what me and my brother did in the back garden. In the end I got bored and grew up. There were lots more interesting things out there than shooting Dad's old beer cans. It helped that my parents weren't gun nuts or survivalists, but presuming the parents of the children in these pictures are is also a hefty presumption.

What I find much more frightening is the young people in London who feel they need to carry knives for protection. That is a thought process that leads to very real tragedy in our streets. A couple of years back through my work I came face to face with this when two of my residents children were killed in gang violence. Nobody was carrying a gun, just knives. Kesteleyn has done a good job of her photo project and her work is enjoying recognition. But before we get too judgemental of these chubby kids and their parents, let's take a hard look at our world.