“The pain in my soul is unbearable. I keep asking myself the same unsolvable question: If my assault rifle took people’s lives, it means that I, Mikhail Kalashnikov, … son of a farmer and Orthodox Christian am responsible for people’s deaths.”
Anatomy of War continues Noah Scalin’s exploration of the power and devastation of human creations. This exhibition features a range of works inspired by the iconic AK-47 and its creator Mikhail Kalashnikov.
It’s impossible to separate the violence of the ongoing wars around the globe from the weapons that fuel them – specifically the countless numbers of small arms that are endlessly in circulation passing hand-to-hand. However, too often the discussion around guns in America gets wrapped up in emotional terms around the 2nd Amendment. Anatomy of War brings the discussion back to the individual human level.
Initially intended to be a survey of weapons currently used in wars around the world, Anatomy of War focuses on a single and singular weapon: the AK-47. In constant use since its creation in 1946, it is estimated that there are nearly 100 million AK-47 style assault rifles currently in circulation around the globe. Because of its resilence and ease of use this weapon can be found in the hands of military personnel, terrorists, freedom fighters, and child soldiers alike. It has become an iconic image – a symbol that is found on album covers & jewelry and in photos of the famous & infamous. It’s also the only modern weapon to appear on a national flag (Mozambique).
Mikhail Kalashnikov created the design of the AK-47 while a soldier in the Russian army, but his relationship to the weapon he created remained ambivalent throughout his life. While never outright denouncing it he often made statements that showed his unease with its proliferation, “I’m proud of my invention, but I’m sad that it is used by terrorists. I would prefer to have invented a machine that people could use and that would help farmers with their work – for example a lawnmower.” And he ultimately reached out to the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church seeking absolution for his contribution to the deaths of untold numbers of people, shortly before his death in 2013 at 94 years old.
The work in this show represents three responses to growing up in a world of never-ending wars:
Sculptures and photographs of AK-47s that have been clinically dissected revealing a remarkably human set of internal organs – rather than the cold steel and bullets normally found within. The object becomes as fragile as the lives that it can potentially take. In addition the gun becomes a physical extension of the body of the user of the weapon.
Effigies of the AK-47 created from common household matches. These ubiquitous objects are lit on fire and the resulting image captured in carbon, like the permanent shadows that remained after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Portraits of Mikhail Kalashnikov & his skull created by shooting real bullets into a wooden panel and capturing and preserving the resulting gunshot residue.
Noah Scalin’s work explores the theme of transience – specifically the temporary nature of our individual lives and tenuous nature of human existence on the planet. Rooted in the medieval concept of memento mori, a reflection on mortality meant to spur a greater reverence for life and reevaluation of priorities, Scalin’s work asks us to take notice of everyday moments.
Anatomy of War – Noah Scalin September 9 – October 12
Krause Gallery 149 Orchard St. NYC www.krausegallery.com
Opening reception September 9 6-9PM RSVP: http://anatomyofwar.