When Toronto photographer, Steven James Brown, unearthed a handful of disabled guns in a blacksmith’s shop in Nova Scotia, he was struck by how they resembled a work of art instead of a collection of threatening artillery. The photographs featured in Gun Control are portraits of provocative handguns that have been stripped of their potency and destroyed for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
These intriguing portraits present a compelling sense of narrative, even though the history and story of each gun remains unknown. Set against a blank white backdrop, each of these portraits resembles a stylized mug shot that criminalizes the guns and invites the viewer to pass judgment. Was the gun an accessory in a horrific crime, a means of protection in a personal drama or did it simply sit unused for a lifetime? Shot using a large format camera, these exquisite photographs are deliberately overexposed so that each one is reminiscent of a drawing. Guns evoke powerful feelings, emotions and memories. These beautifully haunting images reflect the complex place that these charged objects occupy within our collective memory.