WHY ART = AMMO?
From Joan Baez to Tony Kushner, to Keith Haring to The Yes Men and Bansky, the combustible mix that art and activism make have influenced me since I was a little girl. After Newtown I couldn’t help but employ these elements to help take on gun violence in this country.
As a Broadway choreographer and dancer, I speak with movement. I create ephemeral, moving images to hopefully affect people in some way—shift attitudes, change emotional states, broaden one’s scope of information and understanding.
In this debate, art becomes the silver bullet that can cut through the sound bites and political shouting saturating gun control rhetoric. Art taps into another part of the brain that doesn’t think in red and blue, penetrating people’s emotions to breakthrough. Art affects us literally, in a different part of the brain. It's why the courageous Gabby Giffords has difficulty speaking, yet can sing an entire Beatles song.
My goal is to reach at least one person. One person who is undecided about this debate. One person who has become apathetic as the horrific headlines get less share of voice in our media-driven society. Or even one person who is fighting so hard against us that he or she is numb to the calamities that we have experienced as a nation as a result of our lack of common sense gun legislation.
WHY MOVEMENT = MOVEMENT?
Neuroscientists call it bottom up. Body to brain. Physicality changes habit faster than language. By using bodies in motion to remember unspeakable tragedies, I hope to spur a visceral reaction from onlookers and help change minds, gaining support for sensible gun control.
What exactly do we do? It’s not a rally. It’s not a protest. Millenials would probably call it a “flashmob”. I call it an act. An act in what I hope to be an ongoing movement that gets people to stop and think about their views on gun violence in this country.
YOU + ARTAMMO = MOVEMENT
It started on February 24, 2013. Almost 200 artists and activists met in NYC’s Times Square. We held our hands up in a surrender position for 26 seconds. 26 seconds to honor the 26 victims of Newtown. Vulnerable to opposition in a very public place, we singularly sank to the ground and dropped into a lifeless position as our partners traced our outlines with chalk. An exponential crime scene emerged. We wrote a word inside each chalked body image- the name of a victim, their age, a statistic, 'senseless,' 'loophole,' 'mother,' 'son,' 'enough' and then…walked away.
Left on the ground was a sea of literary and visual reminders of lives lost. As the last physical act of the day—the last bit of choreography and direction if you will—we added our voices and called our congressperson and finally spoke, for what we want:
- Please make gun trafficking a federal offense
- Provide Universal background checks
- Ban assault weapons
We silenced Times Square. Nobody walked on what felt like sacred ground. People just stopped. And reflected. And hopefully walked away with a stronger sense of where they should stand on this fight.
I ask you to join this movement and bring ART=AMMO to your city or town. Let’s keep going, asking Americans across the US to stop and stare at hundreds of peoples' images and names on the ground. Impossible to then not feel the greater loss on the hallowed ground of our country.
– Lorin Latarro