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June 13, 2007

It’s Not A Hand Gun, It’s Military: Fleet Week #3

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Girls and guns. Kids and guns. Teens, sex and guns.

Today, I offer the last in a series of posts featuring images by photojournalist Nina Berman of this year's Fleet Week naval extravaganza in NYC.

In the first post, I noted the public's unremarkable response to American militarism and the public display of weaponry.  In the second post, I focused on military recruitment and race.  Today, I'm interested in a more narrow aspect of these gun-saturated images, which is the prevalence of hand guns in these exhibitions.

I was interested in how these three images, all emphasizing the hand gun, have a slightly different pull.  In image #1, are we witnessing a loss of innocence, or, in our violence-saturated culture, simply the lack of it?  In #2, factoring those facial expressions; the girl's "girlish" and incredible "Go Nuts" top; the face paint (kids love face paint); and the fingers on the triggers, I'm wondering, is this the new cover of the American family album?  And, in #3, besides the appeal to gangster chic, there is no escaping the double entendre of "a boy's equipment."

Granted, the military came to NY for a (PR) show of hardware.  And who could deny that the small arms weapon is a necessary implement in any military arsenal.  What I'm curious about, however, is how — just weeks after the Virginia Tech shootings (and the lost opportunity to have a public debate about hand guns) — neither the military, the police, nor the anti-gun Mayor seemed to have much reservation about discouraging the public (no just looking?), and especially, children, from getting their hands on a piece.

>>If you have questions or comments for Nina, she is available to answer in the discussion thread<<

Other Fleet Week posts:

Asking Questions About America:
Fleet Week #1

Black Boys With Guns:
Fleet Week #2

Nina Berman website.

Nina's Purple Hearts: Back from Iraq
website/purchase



(image: Nina Berman/Redux. NYC, New York, May 25, 2007.  Used by permission)

About the Photographer

Nina Berman

Nina Berman is a documentary photographer with a primary interest in the American political and social landscape. She is the author of two monographs, "Purple Hearts – Back from Iraq" and "Homeland," both examining war and militarism. Her work has been recognized with awards in art and journalism from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the World Press Photo Foundation, the Open Society Institute Documentary Fund and Hasselblad, among others. She has participated in more than 90 solo and group exhibitions, including the Whitney Museum 2010 Biennial, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Portland Art Museum, and Dublin Contemporary. Her work has been featured on CBS, CNN, PBS, ABC, BBC and reviewed in the New York Times, Aperture, Art in America, TIME, and the New Yorker. She is a member of NOOR photo collective and is an Associate Professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She lives in New York City. See more of Nina's work for BagNews here.

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