‘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
International

Hurricane Odile batters Mexico's Baja resorts, sparks looting

Hurricane Odile injured dozens of people, forced the evacuation of thousands and smashed shops open to looters in the popular tourist area of Baja, Mexico.

National

Apple iPhone 6 pre-orders hit record 4 million…

By Lehar Maan(Reuters) - Apple Inc said many customers will need to wait until next month for their new iPhones after a record 4 million…

National

LAPD investigates complaint from detained 'Django' actress

The LAPD is investigating after "Django Unchained" actress Daniele Watts accused police of violating her rights when they detained her.

Local

Number of New York City smokers increase, topping…

For the first time since 2007, there are  more than one million smokers in New York City, according to the New York City Department of…

The Word

The Word: Hey girl, it's a girl for…

It's a girl for Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes, who reportedly welcomed a daughter last Friday, according to Us Weekly. The super-private couple managed to…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, Sept. 16: 'New Girl,'…

Check out the season premiere of "New Girl," as Jess competes with Jessica Biel for a guy's attentions.

Movies

Newsflash: Corey Stoll still not a man

In director Shaun Levy's "This Is Where I Leave You," Corey Stoll stars as the oldest of four adult children (the others are played by…

Movies

If you don't like Simon Pegg's new film,…

Simon Pegg goes all out in "Hector and the Search for Happiness" as the titular psychiatrist stymied by modern life who embarks on a globetrotting…

NFL

Tom Coughlin says Giants 'beat themselves' against Cardinals

Head coach Tom Coughlin, who had a day to cool off and reflect, still sounded like he had a gnawing feeling in his gut.

NFL

Marty Mornhinweg accepts blame for Jets timeout fiasco

Jets fans looking for a scapegoat for Sunday’s timeout fiasco found a willing party on Monday: Marty Mornhinweg.

NFL

3 things we learned in Jets loss to…

The wheels came off for the Jets, who gave up 21 unanswered points after a brilliant first 20 minutes in a 31-24 loss at the Packers.

NFL

Victor Cruz catches case of the drops in…

The Giants dropped a tough, 25-14, decision to the undermanned Cardinals Sunday in their home opener. And drop was the operative word of the day,…

Style

London Fashion Week recap

London Fashion week gets in on the action with politics, heritage and summertime living.

Food

Padma Lakshmi's recipe for green mango curry

Padma Lakshmi shares her recipe for green mango curry in UNICEF's new book, "UNICHEF."

Travel

World's most hipster cities: Top 5

Travel blogger Adam Groffman tells us his picks for the Top 5 most hipster cities in the world.

Education

The top 5 regrets recent high school grads…

College application season can seem like a blur for many students - as test prep, campus visits and filling out a seemingly endless stream of…