Since its introduction into active warfare in 1948, the AK-47 has become the weapon of choice for military personnel, terrorists, and child soldiers. It has become a symbol for combat and guerrilla warfare, one that has seen the deaths of millions if not billions of people worldwide. While a debate rages around the right to own a gun and the regulation of gun ownership, artist Noah Scalin wants to draw attention to the human lives destroyed by these weapons.
“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,” writes Scalin.
The United States has seen a rash of mass shootings in recent years, claiming the lives of children, university students and more. Despite emotional pleas from President Barack Obama and a large contingent of the country, the government has yet to successfully implement stricter gun controls. This is because of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and their firm belief in America’s Second Amendment and the right to bear arms.
According to Scalin, the debate centres on the emotional connection to the right to bear arms when it should be focused on the individual, human casualties resulting from the prevalence of guns. To illustrate this point, Scalin combines the standard handgun and AK-47 with human biology using polymer clay, acrylic, and enamel. The result is a chilling range of weapons that open up to reveal human organs instead of the cold, hard metal associated with weaponry.
“These guns have been clinically dissected revealing a remarkably human set of internal organs,” explains Scalin. “The objects become as fragile as the lives that they can potentially take. In addition, the guns become a physical extension of the body of the user of the weapon, albeit one with a conspicuously absent brain.”
The objects form part of a series titled, Anatomy of War, which was exhibited at the Krause Gallery in New York last year.
Images Courtesy of Noah Scalin.