With their exhibit Blue Jeans on Thin Ice, artists Pinar Demirdag and Viola Renate—who refer to themselves professionally as Pinar & Viola—have crafted a cheeky yet provocative response to the quagmire of rhetoric and violence that America is drowning in, brought on by the country’s gun culture and the debate that surrounds it. The show, which opened in November at the KesselsKramer gallery in Los Angeles, gave visitors the chance to participate in what was essentially the artists’ twisted take on a classic carnival game: visitors were able to fire rifles at small targets made of mirror glass. Shatter a target, win a teddy bear stitched out of denim.
But despite the veneer of fun and games, the show had more sinister undertones. For instance, 62 bears were available in total, representing the amount of American mass shootings that have taken place since Demirdag and Renate were born. But the Turkish (Pinar) and Dutch (Viola) artists weren’t merely interested in the appropriation of firearms. Since nothing at the exhibit was technically for sale (save for the $1 it cost to shoot the rifle), the Paris-based duo were also looking to democratize the art world, which is notorious for catering to the wealthiest people. As for all that denim? “One represents the American dream and the other America’s nightmare,” they said.