Loaded: Guns in Contemporary Art

Suzanne Ramljak

Available January 2022


Works by nearly 100 of today’s most prominent artists—including Willie Cole, Mark Dion, Mona Hatoum, Peter Saul, Yinka Shonibare, and Laurie Simmons—raise questions about the many issues that firearms trigger, leaving answers up to the reader. This invigorating survey of contemporary art and guns offers insight into the mixed associations of firearms in our culture. Situating these artworks within the contexts of fire domestication, weapon history, social movements, and art history, the book touches on subjects of power, equality, and access, and the current debates surrounding gun use. What emerges is the inherently dualistic nature of firearms, which are both protective and destructive, empowering and enfeebling, supporting peace and war, life and death. While this central ambivalence can’t be captured in statistical data or media sound bites, it thrives within these complex visual works. This collection reveals a striking diversity of viewpoints on guns, highlighting their inescapable duplicity and the compelling role they have come to play within our lives and imaginations.

Size: 7 1/2" x 9" | 155 color images | 176 pp
ISBN13: 9780764362781

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Suzanne Ramljak, a writer and art historian, is currently a curator at the American Federation of Arts, New York. She was formerly editor of Sculpture and Metalsmith magazines. Ramljak has authored several books on contemporary art and design, including Natural Wonders: The Sublime in Contemporary Art (Rizzoli), On Body and Soul: Contemporary Armor to Amulets (Schiffer), and Unique by Design: Contemporary Jewelry in the Donna Schneier Collection (Metropolitan Museum and Yale University Press). She has contributed to numerous publications, and her writing on art has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, Utne Reader, and other periodicals. Among the exhibitions she has curated are Playtime: Toys for Adults, Romancing the Brain, Divine Flesh: Contemporary Goddess Imagery, and Case Studies: Art in a Valise.