National School Walkout: Paul Chan Produces Banners for Gun Reform Protest

‘NRA Takes Lives’: the artist and his publishing outfit Badlands Unlimited have produced banners for students in the US protesting for gun reform

Courtesy: Badlands Unlimited

Courtesy: Badlands Unlimited

Courtesy: Badlands Unlimited

Hundreds of thousands of students are expected to walk out of their classrooms today, in a protest over gun violence in the US, and the tragic shooting at a high school in Florida last month. The walkouts are intended as both a tribute to the shooting’s victims, as well as a demand for gun reform. Artist Paul Chan and his publishing outfit Badlands Unlimited have produced banners for New York student activists involved in the National School Walkout protest today, and the March for our Lives demonstration on 24 March.

The signs are part of Badlands Unlimited’s New Proverbs series (first produced for the Million Women’s March in January 2017), and openly call out the US president and the National Rifle Association as complicit in US gun violence, with provocative text reading ‘Trump Kills Teens’ and ‘NRA Takes Lives’. The New Proverbs series has an unlikely inspiration, taking their visual cues from the placards used by the Christian hate-speech group Westboro Baptist Church.

The banners have been provided for student activists at Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn, the High School for American Studies with the Bronx High School of Science, Beacon High School in Manhattan, the Fieldston School, and other schools across New York. Activist organizer and student at Saint Ann’s, Henry Davis, told frieze: ‘we hope to take killing machines out of the hands of all Americans: students, teachers, and police officers.’ Davis said that the signs produced by Paul Chan were ‘potent images’ and expected they would be highly effective when viewed on social media.

Paul Chan’s intervention follows sculptor Anish Kapoor’s open letter in which he blasted the NRA and lent his weight to the movement for gun control in the US. In his letter, Kapoor said that it was time that the NRA ‘was held to account for its ongoing campaign of fear and hate in American society’.

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