New Orleans Artist Will Buy Back Your Gun

Can New Orleans trade violence for artistic inspiration?

Meghan Boody, No More Blood. Photo: Meghan Boody.
Meghan Boody, No More Blood. Photo: Meghan Boody.

In a country plagued by gun violence, gun-related deaths are especially prevalent in New Orleans’s Eighth Ward. As reported by the Huffington Post, artist and curator Kirsha Kaechele, an Eighth Ward resident for ten years, is looking to change that, organizing the city’s largest gun buy-back as part of “The Embassy,” her art installation for the third edition of the Prospect New Orleans biennial.

In an interview with the Huffington Post, Kaechele explained that the project is inspired by the death of someone she was close to, “a very beautiful boy who wanted no part of the violence.” Kaechele described his death as “a big moment for me; it showed how unacceptable the conditions are for young men today. If you happen to be born in that neighborhood everything is stacked against you.”

After her decade in New Orleans, Kaechele moved to Australia, but couldn’t get the problems of her old neighborhood out of her head. She’s enlisted Tasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art (see “Tasmanian Millionaire Wants to Build Casino in His Museum“) for support in the buy-back/block party/art installation, which will be hosted at Ace’s Car Wash & Sweet Shop today, Saturday, October 25. Local religious leaders, dancers, opera singers, and artists, such as Meghan Boody (who has created a number of No More Blood billboards promoting the event), will be on hand as gun owners exchange working weapons for cash: $75 for handguns, $150 for rifles, and $250 for assault rifles as well as semi-and fully-automatic guns.

The Betty Squad Gumbo Dancers prepare to participate in Kirsha Kaechele's New Orleans gun buy back. Photo: Jonathan Traviesa.

The Betty Squad Gumbo Dancers prepare to participate in Kirsha Kaechele’s New Orleans gun buy back. Photo: Jonathan Traviesa.

 

The artists have also engaged local rappers such as 5th Ward Weebie, Hotboy Ronald, Katey Red, and Mr. Serv-On, who are collaborating on a new anti-gun album. “No one wants to know what I have to say about putting down your gun. I don’t have a history that allows me to relate to young men who are engaged with gun violence,” Kaechele told HuffPo. “Rappers, on the other hand, they’re the local heroes. If they’re the ones saying stop the killing, there is a chance their message will be heard.”

Sellers will remain anonymous and all collected guns will be destroyed by the police. Kaechele views the exchange of guns and money as a form of public, participatory performance art that offers the community the opportunity to trade violence for artistic inspiration.

“My hope is that the young men in the 8th Ward and the surrounding neighborhoods are inspired to trade killing for creativity,” Kaechele concluded. “Through the relationships they’ve developed they decide they can move past the paradigm of gangsters and guns. Healing in the neighborhood, by the neighborhood.”


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