Target Audience, Loaded Images

Denton artist Max Kazemzadeh addresses his Persian heritage and images of violence in the media in a tight little show titled 'Curious Comforts' at Studio 107

<i>shelter 2004 (mckinney, tx)</i>
shelter 2004 (mckinney, tx)

Have you ever held a machine gun? It takes both hands. You get a good grip on it, get your target in the sights, and pull the trigger. It fires in rapid, sustained bursts. At Studio 107, an interactive artwork by Denton artist Max Kazemzadeh gives everyone the opportunity to do some gun-toting. Target Audience has a small camera mounted on the tip of a 1940s machine pistola. You can point the gun at anyone (or anything) you want, and the image is projected onto a canvas or a window. You even hear the familiar tinny rat-a-tat-tat of point-and-shoot video games when you pull the trigger.

I'm glad I held the gun. It made me uncomfortable, and it was pretty heavy, but my target was a legitimate one: I aimed for the guy standing by the food who never buys any art. Once he was in the picture, I listened for the bursts, smiled, and put the gun down. It felt good to win my own little war of resentment so easily. One man entered the room and immediately put the gun in his own mouth – he obviously had a different perspective on what guns are for.

Kazemzadeh, who has recently returned to Texas after living in Brooklyn, teaches electronic media arts at the University of North Texas. In this tight little show titled "Curious Comforts," he addresses his Persian heritage and images of violence in the media. He switches media comfortably, maintaining his personality and voice throughout the framed digital prints, installations, and videos. Strip-mall Construction Site (McKinney Texas, 2004) is a tiny video of a construction crew working at night. It's dark, and small lights pop on and off. Above it on the wall is an enlarged Iraq war headline. The two images in combination look like the famous footage of missiles over Iraq. The piece is oddly simple. Is it really so easy to create that kind of scary effect?

This show is not a bummer or a heavy-handed diatribe on the politics of victimization. It has its lighter touches, as in the self-portrait of Kazemzadeh sprawling in an apartment on a lounge chair, enjoying a sunny morning with his machine guns. I liked the piece called Castanets and a Catcher's Mitt, which shows a traditional Iranian dancer on half the page and on the other half, the artist in the same pose as the dancer but wearing a catcher's mitt and a foam hat with beer holders.

"Curious Comforts" runs through July 30 at Studio 107, 411 Brazos #107. For more information, call 477-9092 or visit www.studio107.com.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

political art, Curious Comforts, Studio 107, Max Kazemzadeh, University of North Texas, Strip-mall Construction Site (McKinney Texas, 2004), Castanets and a Catcher's Mitt

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