‘Violent Material’: an exploration of violent imagery in Brooklyn

"Violent Material." Credit: Steven Brahms.
“Violent Material.” Credit: Steven Brahms.

“Violent Material,” a photo series by Brooklyn-based photographer Steven Brahms, depicts men on the streets of Greenpoint and Williamsburg wielding guns in poses that recall action flicks and movie posters, their faces menacing and contorted, their hands tightly gripping a firearm that looks alarmingly real.

But is it alarming? That is the question Brahms poses: have these cinematic archetypes become so ubiquitous as to no longer elicit a truly startled reaction?

So he decided to recreate “these images that we are constantly being confronted by everywhere.”

“I just thought to myself, ‘I wonder what that would actually look like, if I saw a guy with a gun on my street,” Brahms said.

With 25 people shot on city streets this past weekend, it would seem that New Yorkers truly are constantly confronted with Violent Material.

According to the Daily News, this past weekend’s shootings make up five percent of this year’s approximately 440 shootings.

Brahms had a permit from the city, so his crew was accompanied by a uniformed NYPD officer. Still, he said, they drew the attention of various cops, both in uniform and plainclothes—or as Brahms described them, “the Yankees cops.”

“They always wear Yankees jerseys, have you noticed that?” he said.

Brahms found his subjects through Craigslist and various casting websites, and picked the applicants he thought echoed the iconic imagery of “the guy with the gun.”  

Even with professional talent, Brahms said, the shoot was “a little sketchy, because they’re holding guns in Brooklyn.”

“Some felt tough doing it, and then others felt somewhat scared doing it, because you don’t normally see a guy on the street at two o’clock in the afternoon holding a gun,” Brahms explained. “There was tension.”

But the process of taking the photos aligned with his initial feelings about the desensitizing effect of this kind of imagery of men with guns.

“That was what was so weird,” he said. “As soon as you take the picture, instantly [that tension] kind of deteriorates, and it’s not that interesting because you’ve seen it before and you’re seeing it again.”

In fact, the images appearing in Tuesday’s Metro will be yet another instance of that, Brahms noted: “It’s part of the project now,” he said. “It’s very cool.”

 

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MIT student, Rhodes scholar, dies

Eliana Hechter, a student at MIT and Harvard, died, her family said. The announcement was posted on MIT's website.

Local

Video: Car crashes into Cambridge store, man arrested…

A Cambridge man was arrested on gun and drug charges after crashing his car into a Massachusetts Avenue storefront early Saturday morning.

Local

Body found believed to be missing Fitchburg boy…

The body of a child found off of a highway in Sterling last week is likely that of missing Fitchburg boy Jeremiah Oliver, authorities said.

Local

Memorial held for Sean Collier, MIT police officer…

More than 1,600 people gathered at MIT on Friday for a memorial service for Sean Collier, the police officer shot to death a year ago in the aftermath of the…

Television

'Orphan Black' recap: Episode 1, ‘Nature Under Constraint…

Welcome to your first Season 2 “Orphan Black” recap! Hopefully Tatiana Maslany can help Tatiana Maslany get through this, with the help of Tatiana Maslany,…

Books

Poems from prison: 'How to Survive a Bullet…

Celebrate National Poetry Month with, "'How to Survive a Bullet to the Heart."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox defeat Orioles, 4-2

Brock Holt the difference in the Red Sox' win

NHL

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump…

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump Bruins in Game 1

MLB

MLB video highlights: Orioles top Red Sox, 8-4…

John Lackey roughed up for second straight outing

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Parenting

Is camp right for introverts?

We ask an expert for tips on sending your introverted child to camp

Parenting

How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.