Farrah Aviva levels a photographic gut punch with ‘The BangBang’
We at YVR Screen Scene are committed to celebrating the work of our local film and television artists, whether it’s created for the screen or in a wholly different artistic realm – which is why we’re chuffed to tell you all about Farrah Aviva’s exhibition of art photography, The BangBang, on now until April 30 at the Opus Hotel. –Ed.
Farrah Aviva is that rare multi-hyphenate artist – actress (UnREAL), portrait photographer, film producer (Welcome to Nowhere) – who’s fully committed to whatever art she happens to be exploring at the time.
Aviva even got married on the set of Welcome to Nowhere – writing her vows on the back of a script – because it was next to impossible for her and now-husband Robin Dunne (a multi-hyphenate himself) to disengage from their art, even for their wedding (you can read about their remarkable wedding experience here).
Whatever she's doing, Aviva is full-bore – and so it’s no surprise that, for her first foray into art photography, she’s gone full-throttle, full stop.
Aviva’s photography project is appropriately named The BangBang. There are more than 25 images in The BangBang, and six are currently hanging in the Opus Hotel as part of the Capture Photography Festival.
“Something in my soul was yearning to have more of an impact,” says Aviva in a recent phone interview.
Aviva’s been working on The BangBang for nearly three years. It began in earnest when she was hanging with her dad one day. “He’s a hobby shooter, and I saw buckets of rusted up bullets that were destined for a landfill, and I was like, ‘What can I do with this?’" she recalls. "I knew I could use them in photos. I started collecting bullets.”
The name of the series isn't subtle, and neither are its images: limbs and skin and guns and bullets. Faces are obscured (“I made the plan from the very beginning that I didn’t want it to be about the person,” she says). One image lives in a frame that Aviva crafted out of 1039 bullet shells.
They're loud images, to be sure. But there’s also room within them for a range of interpretations and emotions. And that’s Aviva's primary mission for The BangBang: to get people talking.
“I wanted to create images that would spark a conversation or a new conversation that wouldn’t have happened otherwise,” says Aviva, adding that, despite the abundance of bullets in the series, The BangBang isn’t a commentary on guns. “The show is not at all about guns and bullets. It’s more of a metaphor and a way to get people’s attention to talk about bigger issues, even issues that are with guns and bullets,” she says.
It’s also about getting people talking about issues in a world where they’re more likely to respond to visuals than to text.
“People aren’t really reading newspapers,” says Aviva. “They might look at a photo and just go on with their day, or they’ll scroll it on Instagram. I’m at fault for that, so I thought, ‘Okay, maybe some of the images that need to cross our paths, whether it’s on Instagram, or on someone’s wall, or if it’s hanging in a hotel, is an image that has more to it than being a pretty or sexy image – one that carries a message that’s a bit deeper.’”
Aviva is currently at work on another bullet-related series: Bite the Bullet, in which individuals literally bite down on a bullet that represents something they believe in, be it gun control, body issues, or supporting veterans. (She’s got a big announcement related to Bite the Bullet coming in a couple of months, so follow @FarrahAviva for more).
Aviva knows that not everyone is going to understand The BangBang (“Some people are going to react to some of my photos in a negative way because I think that, if you look at the image for surface value, they might respond viscerally rather than intellectually,” she says), but even if they don’t get it, it’s the conversation that matters.
“Whether they’re yelling about what my photo was or it’s just about guns in general, or if it’s about women looking too sexy, I’d rather people have these conversations than sit with their thoughts,” says Aviva.