Limelight Firefight in progress
This portfolio consists of original and appropriated photography and video focused on youth-oriented gun culture and high fashion. The intent of the project is to reveal and explore the complex nature in which core values in society are internalized during childhood through seemingly innocuous objects and family activities. Specifically, by investigating child development in relation to the controversial and politically divisive gun and fashion cultures, my hope is that the viewer becomes hyperaware of the proximity childhood play has to real-world actions that significantly affect the everyday experience.
By examining the vernacular of amateur videos/photos and the general ephemera of gun and fashion related childhood activities in mainstream America, the series unveils a complex portrait of children engaged in rituals that perpetuate popular culture determinations of femininity, masculinity, ideas of the other, beauty, and violence. Family videos and photographs shared on public archives such as YouTube and Flickr document the history of a child achieving or failing to meet culturally venerated events associated with becoming a "man" or "woman." Often these archives reveal the unofficial parental “decisive moments” of a child’s engagement with “princess” or “soldier” gestures, objects, and traditions.
The series also examines the powerful influence toys have on childhood development and behavior. Toys are often dismissed as superfluous objects innocently inspiring the imaginations of children; however, if removed from the small hands of children and the colorful aisles of the department store, toys present themselves as objects propagating religious, political, scientific, and commercial ideals and agendas. By using photography to depict mass-produced toys (e.g. guns and Barbie shoes) as artifacts of consumerism, the series deconstructs and exposes the fetishizing spectacle and material manifestation of cultural attitudes, ethics, and societal standards. Toys are transformed from simple objects of play into training accessories in the complicated and often controversial development of adult sexuality, gender, and power.