Canadian artist Kim Morgan recently traveled to New Mexico for a residency, and was impressed with the stark landscape, which she found to be both exciting and frightening. There is a sense of survival and death in the desert, and her casts of dead or eaten Prickly Pear cacti reflect the frailty and danger of the southwest environment. Morgan cast the cacti in aluminum, adding long, sharp glass and metal needles to accentuate their need for defense.
The New Mexico landscape’s ubiquitous shot-out road signs and “No Trespassing” notices added to Kim’s sense of fear and excitement. As a Canadian, she was surprised to find that the locals carried guns at all times. She met up with a militia, who taught her how to shoot a gun. In her video, Shooting Myself in the Foot (2006), she shoots at a pair of boots placed on a chair in the stark desert, the snowcapped mountains in the distance. The boots dance and gunsmoke rises as she shoots from beyond the camera frame. She had worn these boots while working on a four-year project she had just completed, and using them for target practice was an empowering means of processing her sense of futility as an artist, the indulgent slightly masochistic nature of which she likens to shooting oneself in the foot. Together, the video and sculpture installation create a contemporary take on both landscape and still life, addressing art’s ultimate issues of beauty and death.