Gun culture

Sigmar Polke I Don’t Really Think About Anything Too Much 2002

Sigmar Polke
I Don’t Really Think About Anything Too Much

Courtesy Michael Werner, New York and Cologne © Sigmar Polke

In this exhibition there are a number of works which seem to relate to Texas, where the exhibition was originally shown. Polke asked to be sent a variety of Texan newspapers which may have provided inspiration for several works, such as the images of the gun sellers and firing range, and the advertisement for Remington ammunition. These images feed into a well-established stereotype about the gun culture of the American West, from Western films about cowboys and outlaws to contemporary gun lobbies arguing for rights to possess firearms. But Polke adopts an ambiguous position. Many of these images present the social, sporting world of shooting arcades and competitive target practice rather than expected images of gun violence and aggression.

In Splatter Analysis (2002) and I Don’t Really Think About Anything Too Much (2002) (see above), Polke focuses closely on the patterns made by the scattered bullet holes across the shooting targets. These patterns resemble the dissolving dots and shapes found in Polke’s ‘raster dot’ and ‘Printing Mistake’ paintings, encouraging the viewer to look for coherent shapes and forms in the random shot marks. In these works the act of shooting, involving marking or staining a target, can be seen as a parallel to the process of artistic image-making.