Exhibitions

Inside Downtown Los Angeles’ Premier Gun Club

Images from the series L.A. Gun Club © Jane Hilton, courtesy Eleven Gallery

By photographing the posters used in a gun club in downtown LA, London-based photographer Jane Hilton continues her exploration of American culture and Americana through one of the country’s most controversial pursuits.

The L.A. Gun Club in downtown Los Angeles is the home of a legal pastime that allows people to shoot live ammunition at target posters with guns such as a Colt .45 or an AK47.

Each participant can select from over a hundred target posters, ranging from minimalist human forms to cartoon bad guys.

Hilton has documented the remains of these unique ’shot’ target posters created, through a process of destruction, by a cross section of her community – from a brain surgeon to a couple on a ‘date night’.

Hilton, a photographer and filmmaker from London, has built a career exploring the culture of the western parts of the United States

The series, about to launch as an exhibition at London’s Eleven Gallery, is also a limited edition, self-published photobook featuring brief interviews with the shooters.

Hilton therefore shows us a snapshot of the attitudes towards guns, gun use and gun ownership in America.

A 34-year-old biology school teacher, firing his own Sig Sauer 226 9mm pistol, told her: “I like to come here for ‘stress relief’. It is not unusual for teachers at my school to have guns and use them at clubs for stress relief. Our Vice Principal does, but obviously does not advertise the fact. I come when I have a bad day at school, but that doesn’t mean I visualise the pupils. I don’t!”

A 31-year-old American owner of a ‘Skate Shop’ in Germany, fired a Kalashnikov AK47. He told Hilton: “I’m on holiday visiting my cousin and we decided to come here to shoot some guns as it is something I can’t do in Germany. I am going to the Grand Canyon tomorrow.”

“Guns are normalised, part of everyday life, a leisure activity for ‘sport and protection,” she says.

Hilton’s recent solo exhibitions include Precious, Eleven, London (2013), Dead Eagle Trail, Nailya Alexander Gallery, New York (2011). Her work has featured in the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, The National Portrait Gallery, London. Her documentary photography has been featured in  The Telegraph, The Sunday Times and The Observer.

Eleven will exhibited additional works from L.A. Gun Club during Photo London at Somerset House from 19th to 22nd May on stand E2.

For more information on Eleven, visit here. See more of Jane’s photography here.