Arianne Tubman is a fourth-year Bachelor of Fine Arts student at UBCO. With graduation just around the corner, she is currently working on her final body of work for the year-end degree show. Over a Zoom call, she reflected on the current semester and told us about her ongoing film photography project where she explores gun ownership in the Okanagan.
Jayme: How are you finding this year with the restrictions to how students can work on campus?
Arianne: It’s… weird. Normally you can go into the Creative and Critical Studies building on campus and see people you know and ask for quick feedback—there was a real community feeling there. I would often just bump into other people and have a discussion about work—we could really build off of each other. Whereas now it’s almost like a ghost town—when I see another person it’s like “oh my god!” So yeah, it’s a bit sad being on campus. I wish I was getting more feedback on what I’m doing. The Discord channel made by the Visual Arts Course Union is trying to make it easier to get feedback from others, but I wouldn’t say it’s working too well at this point. The thing is, we’re already online so much, so downloading and using yet another app is pretty much the last thing that I want to do right now.
Jayme: Tell me about the body of work that you’ll be presenting in the degree show.
Arianne: My project is called the PAL Project because PAL stands for Possession and Acquisition License, which is the gun license you need in order to purchase firearms and ammunition in Canada. The overarching goal of the project is to challenge some of the stereotypes that are perpetuated about gun owners and to educate people on the differences between what you’re seeing in movies, that are Americanized versions of firearm use, versus the actual realities of Canadian gun owners. For example, we can’t use guns in self-defense here. It’s those kinds of ideas that people have about them that aren’t actually true here. Also, there are many laws, restrictions, and penalties that gun owners face if they use them irresponsibly, which is also something that most people are not aware of.
Specifically, this Fall I’ve been focusing on hunters because they make up the largest demographic of gun owners in the country. I’ve been going out in the bush with people and taking pictures of them in a documentary style. Sometimes it’s a successful hunt, sometimes it’s not and we just hang out in the bush for a couple of hours. None of the pictures are staged, I’m literally just taking pictures of what they’re doing, the extent of my direction is just me asking them to hold a pose for two seconds while I get my camera in focus. It’s been going pretty well so far! It’s taught me to be more conscious of where I’m stepping, I have to sneak around a bit, and I even bought a camouflage hoodie from Canadian Tire—I have to dress the part!
Jayme: Has the pandemic and its restrictions changed the nature of your work?
Arianne: Funny you should say that, because it really has had an effect on my project lately. In order to get in touch with these gun owners, I have to solicit them on the internet and ask them to let me get in their cars, drive me out into the woods with them, and let me take pictures of them shooting their guns. So, when you add all of the COVID-19 restrictions on top of that, right now I don’t actually think I can legally venture out with strangers and take pictures of them, so I can’t really make work right now. A part of me is definitely wondering how I’m going to finish this semester, and the next one.