America based, New Zealand born photographer Jono Rotman returns to Gow Langsford Gallery for his third solo exhibition Matériel, following on from his controversial Mongrel Mob Portrait series. Using large format photography, Matériel explores the politically and culturally complex issues of weaponry.
The large prints being exhibited are part of a collection of work exploring the shifting violent ingredients of the American Empire. Being based in the USA, Rotman is a witness to the pervasiveness and mass-production of weapons and their polarising influence. For some, they are a focus of zealotry, representing freedom and hegemony. For others, they mean damage and fear.
In this new series of works, the aim is to confront the terrifying by presenting these efficient and utilitarian products. Each photograph of a gun is titled with its Unique Product Code (UPC), a marker of their production as a commodity. These weapons become vessels that represent the distillation of our aspirations and our fears, tools to allow us to better scrutinise the ideology they embody. The objects have been chosen because they are both seductive and chilling. They can be thrilling but are designed to injure, defeat, or destroy. By displaying these guns and bombs in finely detailed photographic studies, Rotman aims to strip them of rhetoric to expose the inherent tension in their being: that we have engineered these things to kill ourselves.
With Matériel, Rotman poses the questions: is our thrall to weapons innate? Do these artefacts represent a cultural zenith or will they prove to be totems of a species brought to collapse by its own hubris?