In the period following World War I, a curious attraction appeared at fairgrounds: the photographic shooting gallery. If the punter’s bullet hit the centre of the target, this triggered a camera. Instead of winning a balloon or toy, the participant would win a snapshot of him or herself in the act of shooting.
Shoot! Existential Photography traces the history of this fascinating side-show – from its popular use at fairgrounds to how it fascinated many artists and intellectuals in its heyday, including Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Man Ray and Lee Miller. The artist Erik Kessels celebrates one shooter in particular – Ria van Dijk, who took portraits of herself in this way every year from 1936 – sixty of these images feature here.
Investigating numerous analogies between taking photographs and shooting, the exhibition includes works by many contemporary artists including Sylvia Ballhause, Agnès Geoffray, Jean-François Lecourt, Christian Marclay, Steven Pippin, Émilie Pitoiset, Niki de Saint Phalle, Rudolf Steiner and Patrick Zachmann.
To artist Rudolf Steiner the camera also serves as a target. In his series Pictures of me, shooting myself into a picture, the bullet hole serves as the aperture for a pinhole camera, creating an image upon impact. The video-sound installation Crossfire by Christian Marclay is a sampling from Hollywood films that edits together those moments in which the actors on the screen begin to take aim at the movie theatre audience. For eight minutes and twenty-seven seconds, the montage transports the viewer into a visual and acoustic crossfire from all sides.
At the end of the exhibition, visitors (18+ years) have the opportunity to take their own portraits in a photographic shooting gallery.
Exhibition curated by Clément Chéroux and co-produced by the Rencontres d’Arles and the Museum Für Photographie, Braunschweig
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