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Exhibition at mudac focuses on the world of firearms
Ted Noten, 'Uzi Mon Amour', 2012 © Ted Noten.

LUXEMBOURG.- With ligne de mire, mudac focuses on the world of firearms, examining it through the lens of design and contemporary creation. The first exhibition of its kind in Switzerland, it addresses in a critical and targeted way our paradoxical relationship with these ambiguous objects that are both fascinating and repulsive, visceral and murderous.

As a design museum, mudac regularly features theme-based exhibitions focusing on social issues, some of which may be sensitive. Thus, several exhibitions so far have aimed to appeal to, surprise and especially stimulate audiences. These include Cache-cache camouflage (2002), Would You Like A Bag with That? Plastic bags in art and design (2013), Nirvana—Strange forms of pleasure (2015) and Safe and Sound—Surveillance and Protection in the 21st Century (2016). The ligne de mire project—the result of two years of research and broad collaboration—shares the same objectives.

The role of the designer is central in the very design of the firearm, and the functionality of the design is very specific. Indeed, a firearm is above all a means to an end: Its aim is to neutralise someone as efficiently as possible and it must be reliable, compact, light, flexible, durable, at times aesthetic, and increasingly intelligent. Over more than two years of research, the issue of lethal design has come up against the silence of the arms industry: Beyond the secrecy that surrounds new technology, communicating on the developments of the functionality of a firearm hardly seems acceptable for producers. More generally, mentioning the connection between design and violence remains mostly taboo. Other fields are better suited in terms of communication: Issues such as ecology, social interaction or the management of Big Data are indeed easier to promote than for example, the development of an artificially intelligent firearm capable of finding its target thanks to facial recognition software, and to decide completely independently to shoot.

Nevertheless, the conclusion is clear: Firearms are a highly emotional topic. Few objects stir up such contrasting feelings, from deep loathing to morbid fascination – an apprehension that is often specific to the sociocultural context in which we have grown up. However, whatever our stance, firearms colonise our daily life and collective psyche through countless images and representations, whether in the media, in films or in the objects that surround us. In turn, it is a weapon of war, a mechanism of individual or collective aggression, a symbol of power and violence, an object of large-scale trafficking, a product of informal economies and even a decorative item. An iconographic motif, the firearm acts as a reminder of our ephemeral existence and frailty.

The exhibition is organised in several sections, each with a chapter heading that refers specifically to the semantic field of firearms, from artists’ and designers’ reinterpretation of the legendary AK-47 (Kalashnikov) to works that recycle various constituent parts of firearms in unexpected, spectacular and committed ways. Playing on materials, shapes and genres, line of sight reflects on this major and complex societal fact. To complement the exhibition, a bilingual brochure given to the visitors will provide information to contextualise each work.

The exhibition ends with a documentation room designed in association with Small Arms Survey, an NGO based in Geneva which collects data at international level on the circulation of light weapons and armed violence.

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