A s h l e y
Shot in 2018
Edited in 2020
Material: Two 100 ft. rolls of digitally transferred 16mm film and digital audio recordings
I met Ashley while I was working on another project in Arkansas in 2018. At the time, she was involved with an organization that works with young women teaching them about how to hunt and dress animals through a lens of wildlife conservation. After meeting for coffee, she consented to a semiformal interview regarding her experience in this field as well as her experience as a woman hunter and gun owner.
My interest was twofold: On a personal level, I related to her in that I also grew up the daughter of a hunter father, in the suburbs of Illinois. She grew up amidst the men in her family hunting but did not herself hunt. Although I have never hunted I was from a young age intimately accustomed to the dressing practices associated with the aftermath of hunting. In my case, this took place in the setting of our garage in suburban Illinois whose floor was stained by blood and gasoline. In Ashley’s case, dressing took place on the field. On another level, I wanted to know more about her simultaneous decision to wield the rifle as a weapon of personal defense (at home), as opposed to a handgun.
This film contains only a tiny portion of a longer conversation, with verbal and physical components, some which are visible in the 16mm film documentation. Fragments of this conversation are juxtaposed to highlight the multifold perception of the hunter who kills what they also admire, as well as address their own vulnerability. Documentation features Ashley and her boyfriend at the time shooting at a target with her rifle, and his handgun. What is not captured on film is myself shooting both of these guns as well as they taught me how to after not shooting since adolescence.