Q&A: Joan Barker — Gun Show


Have you recently been living by any life philosophy? Neutral buoyancy. What will baffle future generations about our day and age? How informed, yet how self-destructive we are. Are you aware of any conspiracies? Sure, the new norm. What is it that interests you about photography? The mystery and magic of fractal mirror vision. What is the worst thing about city life? The look on peoples’ faces. And the noise. What part of the planet would you like to explore? A grain of sand…in Patagonia. What do you think is the most plausible of the supernatural? Out of body experience, very photographic, similar to a selfie. If you had to align yourself with a leader in history, who would it be? Barack Obama. Pick a field of science to be an expert within. Geology. What moment have you most wished you’d had a camera when you hadn’t? My birth. Choose a job you would be willing to do for free on the side. Work for Greenpeace to stop shark finning. Describe the most important photo you’ve seen. Important to whom? How often do you take other people’s advice? I listen, learn and think for myself. Describe a personal hell. Having to live under authoritarian rule. Which living person do you most admire? In the public realm, Jane Goodall. On what occasion do you lie? You presume I lie. What was the last crime you witnessed? The theft of democracy in America. What is the best way to educate yourself? Learn by your mistakes and develop the ability to move from failure to failure without giving up. Be curious, enthusiastic and ask why. What is the next book you want to read? The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Ultimate camera? Working with any camera makes it ultimate at the time. Most used camera? Canon 5D Mark II. What object do you want? A lightweight chainsaw. What object do you need? A new printer with supplies. How would you explain the internet to someone from the 1950’s? A toy, a tool and a weapon that promises a social support structure as it educates, manipulates, deceives, enlightens, enslaves, reveals more than we know, invites everyone to be an expert on everything and offers vast amounts of insight and information. Are you satisfied with your level of physical strength? Not until I can move large rocks. Describe a cheap thrill. Riding a wave i.e. body surfing. Pick an historic moment from the last hundred years to bring a camera to. The fall of the Berlin Wall. Are impulses more important than consequences? No because we all have impulses just as we have passion and imagination. Dream big. Acting on impulse requires taking responsibility for the consequences. Consequences matter. Which talent would you most like to have? To be a telepathic ventriloquist. What is your plan for the next 24 hours? The complete list or an abbreviated version?

Joan Barker is an American artist who employs both traditional and experimental methods in her photography and painting. She is the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Artists’ Fellowship, The Village Voice Photography Grant and two Center for Photography at Woodstock Fellowships. Her photographs have been featured in solo and group exhibitions including O K Harris, NYC, Photographers’ Gallery, London, Carrie Haddad Gallery, Hudson, NY, the California Museum of Photography in Riverside. Joan’s photographs are included in numerous collections such as The Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, AZ.

To see more of Joan Barker’s work visit — www.jbarkerimages.com, and Instagram @arrowdynamics.design

GUN SHOW Statement

Deeply woven into the fabric of America’s collective consciousness is the phenomenon of gun possession as a symbol of freedom and empowerment. Guns are one of the most visible and all-pervasive icons of American society. In some people, they engender a feeling of security, true or false as it may be, in a matter that is peculiarly attractive to an independent-democratic ideal, which is uniquely American.

“Gun Show” is a collection of black and white, silver contact prints made from photographs taken with a 1901 Kodak 8 x 10 view camera (updated lens). The portraits were made in the 1990’s prior to 9/11 and the all too frequent mass shootings in America today.

The images attempt to answer the questions: Who are the citizens in this country who own guns? Why do they claim, cherish, and guard so jealously their Second Amendment rights, as they perceive them? What human or social needs do guns satisfy?

The documentary realism of the “Gun Show” photographs is an exploration of the gun as an American legacy – a concept, an icon, or merely a tool. The pictures speak of paradoxes, depicting the gun as builder and destroyer, simultaneously representing the malevolent and the mundane.
Excerpt from an exhibition written by Katherine Wright in 2008

“THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE,” photographs by Joan Barker, is a captivating portrait series that explores a vast range of gun owners in the United States.
“In consideration of the split opinion on firearms this body of work is captured delicately. It opens the door to discussion, challenging the viewer to formulate his or her own opinion about the controversy,” said Katherine Wright, Director of The Photo Center, Troy, NY. In this body of work Barker challenges the public to deal with the politically charged subject of firearms. Barker states, “The viewer’s reaction to the people in these portraits is determined primarily by the inclusion of the gun. As a result, the photographs evoke controversy based on the viewer’s prejudices about firearms.”