In Guns We Trust
CURATED BY DOUGLAS COUPLAND
Sep 17 - Dec 20
Sep 17, 6 - 9 p.m.
After a first exhibition at Arsenal Contemporary Art New York in spring 2019 covered by The Washington Post and listed by Artnet as one of the ‘22 unmissable shows to see in New York’, In Guns We Trust will now be presented at Arsenal Contemporary Art Montreal.
Through his surreal series of images and installations, Bouchard parses the extremity of this marginalized gun culture at ground zero, their place of worship. In his brief essay, Douglas Coupland brings us a sharp and insightful take on this culture. This book is a must-have for curious minds trying to comprehend the perplexing condition in which we find ourselves.
- Edward Burtynsky
In the exhibition In Guns We Trust, Jean-François Bouchard’s fleet of cinematic photographs, found objects, and video carve out a complex image of American gun culture deep in the heart of Arizona. Eerily lit, taken from aerial views, these vivid images relay the effects of a culture on the land while offering panoramic insight into a social sphere otherwise concealed.
The photographs of In Guns We Trust follow the artist’s pursuit into the Big Sandy Shooting Range, chronicling the material and physical activity of gun aficionados in a unique form of tourism. Narrowing his foray into a macro discussion of guns in the US, Bouchard resolves to enter the conversation with precision rather than derision, while nevertheless being set apart from his subjects. Captured in the deep hues of arid sunsets, set against a roving desert landscape, Bouchard’s images offer gravitas to this material culture of great destruction. Motor vehicles pocked repeatedly by bullets, desert flora covered in smut from a recent explosion, a flip-flop donning woman flaunting her Uzi machine gun—these are the props, backdrops, costumes, and characters of a theater that exists in a nearby America.
Evoking the controlled ravaging of a landscape, the unwavering patriotism of a select group, and an exaltation of weaponry, all captured in night shot, the resulting images constitute an uncanny recalling of war imagery, an all-too-common imagery making up the fabric of this nation, all the while set in a landscape apart from our own, decidedly estranged.
The exhibition is accompanied by a monograph by Jean-François Bouchard, published by Magenta and distributed by Thames and Hudson, with a preface by Douglas Coupland. The book is available for sale at Arsenal Contemporary Art Montreal.
Jean-François Bouchard has worked in contemporary visual art since 2003, traveling the world seeking out people whose interests and lifestyles are out of the ordinary. His visual focus is generally on marginalized, misunderstood, and often ostracized groups in our Western society. His work has been exhibited in galleries, museums, and festivals in Canada, the United States, and France. Bouchard lives and works in Montreal.