This week in art: portraits of kids with their Crickett rifles

Haley, 6 photo by An-Sofie Kesteleyn

I saw this curious Wired post today featuring Amsterdam artist An-Sofie Kesteleyn and her portrait series, My First Rifle. It’s a striking exploration of American gun culture:

“‘I really wanted to know what parents and kids thought about having the guns,’ she says. ‘For me it was hard to understand because we don’t have a gun culture at all. The only people with guns [in the Netherlands] are the police.’…

During the three weeks she was on the ground, about 15 people were willing to let her photograph their children with Crickett rifles, which come in variety of colors, including hot pink. She always asked to visit people at home, because photos at the gun range were too expected and Kesteleyn wanted to reveal more details about the child and the parents…

Kesteleyn says that the majority of parents give their kids guns to educate them and ensure they know how to properly use a firearm when they get older. At the same time, she never could shake how odd she felt standing next to a child with a gun.”

I know how she feels. I’m not entirely sure what it is exactly in these images that I find so jarring. The Barbie-pink color? The bright kid’s bedroom decor juxtaposed with an object that I instinctively associate with adult responsibility? The hand-written notes that accompany the portraits are especially disquieting. In each, a child describes what threats he or she could expect to counter with his or her gun (a tally of those posted to Wired: Zombies-2, Bears-2, Sharks-1, Dinosaurs-1). My First Rifle is undeniably thought-provoking, in any case.

You can check out more of Kesteleyn’s work here

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