In Arizona’s western desert, the Big Sandy lays claim to being the venue of the largest machine gun shoot in the United States. Twice a year, a crowd of legally armed machine gunners spends a weekend on the quarter-mile-long range firing at a wide range of targets. Scrap cars and barrels, mannequins, explosive charges that go off when hit are some of the many options.

Jean-François Bouchard made cinematic photographs around this event, opening in an exhibition and publishing in a book, “In Guns We Trust.” Arsenal Contemporary, the gallery showing the exhibition of the same title, explains the imagery as “evoking the controlled ravaging of a landscape, the unwavering patriotism of a select group, and an exaltation of weaponry, all captured in night shot, the resulting images constitute an uncanny recalling of war imagery."

Douglas Coupland, the exhibition’s curator and author of the book’s introduction, furthers the correlation of Bouchard’s images and war as transporting the viewer to conflict-stricken regions of the Middle East. Coupland describes the work as “heightened versions of what are already borderline surrealistic situations”: cars blown apart from bullet spray, glowing fire after explosions, all photographed in the uneasy glow of the desert night.

Jean-François Bouchard is a visual artist based in Montreal, @jfbouchard1.

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