Imagine that you are a creative individual, much more creative than the people you are surrounded by. You have the abilities to make something new, things than the world did not see yet, or to rearrange existing objects into something completely different, better, more efficient… What would you do? The only logic thing to do is to use your talents for improvement of everything you can, right? Now, let’s say that you are about to become a first class engineer – bright, innovative – but the war is approaching, and they recruit you to the army. Should you proceed improving everything around you? Because, if you are a military engineer, things you are about to improve are weapons, right? Mikhail Kalashnikov found himself in this kind of a situation. The result? He made the most popular riffle in the world, as it is estimated that there are almost 100 million AK-47 rifles in the world. And he also inspired Noah Scalin to create artworks that visitors of Krause Gallery in New York will see if they visit Anatomy of War exhibition.
AK-47 – The Anatomy of a Perfect Killing Machine
At first, Noah Scalin wanted to make artworks that would be a kind of survey of weapons that are used today in war combats around the world. Instead, he focused on a “perfect killing machine”, the most popular riffle in the world. Mikhail Kalashnikov did go to the war – the biggest slaughter that world had ever seen, also known as the Second World War – even got wounded, but he did not develop AK-47 during the war. No, as the acronym suggests, AK-47 (Avtomat Kalashnikova model 1947) it was created two years after the war. The famous inventor, military engineer and weapon designer (not to forget that he was also lieutenant general in the Soviet army) made the riffle so potent, flexible and easy to use that everyone who wanted to kill a person (or hundreds of them) could easily do so using AK-47 – from mercenaries and professional soldiers, to smugglers and even children-soldiers. Now, imagine that you have invented a weapon so merciless and easy to use, that it is still in use, taking away lives nowadays with the same rage? You would have probably regretted that you’ve made such a discovery – at least Mikhail Kalashnikov did, in a way: “I’m proud of my invention, but I’m sad that it is used by terrorists… I would prefer to have invented a machine that people could use and that would help farmers with their work for example a lawn mower”, he said at one point, and added at another: “Blame the Nazi Germans for making me become a gun designer … I always wanted to construct agriculture machinery. I created a weapon to defend the borders of my motherland. It’s not my fault that it’s being used where it shouldn’t be. The politicians are more to blame for this”.
Transience as a Leitmotif
Now, since we live in a world as it is, some of us are indifferent towards it, and some of us are providing some answers and responses to it. The Anatomy of War exhibition is Noah Scalin’s response to never-ending wars. There is a sculpture of AK-47 that is, instead of bullets, gun-powder and metal, filled with human organs, thus making the weapon as fragile as a human body that it was programmed to terminate. Another Scalin’s work shows AK-47 made of matches, that were burned and left an image that visitors will see. The artist also made portraits of Mikhail Kalashnikov – as well as of his scull – in somewhat uncommon manner: by shooting real bullets at wooden panel, and capturing the resulting gunshot residue. In a word, Noah Scalin is exploring a theme of transience of fragile individual lives – lives that Kalashnikov’s invention is mercilessly taking away.
Noah Scalin Exhibition – Where and When
If we and Noah Scalin’s works have interested you in seeing Anatomy of War exhibition, you should pay a visit and take a look at them. After all, they are about AK-47, an iconic riffle, whose image could be found everywhere – it is the only modern weapon to appear on a national flag (Mozambique). Krause Gallery is located at 149 Orchard St. NYC, and Anatomy of War exhibition is scheduled from September 9th to October 12th.
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All images courtesy of the gallery and the artist.