Location: Brooklyn, NY, United States
In the wake of the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School courageously reinvigorated the debate about gun control in the United States. Often lost in the aftermath of mass shooting events however is the stubborn fact that everyday gun violence still accounts for the majority of gun-related deaths in the United States and no segment of the US population feels this more than African American communities across the country. According to the CDC, although African Americans only make up 14 percent of the US population, they account for 57 percent of gun homicide victims. For African American men, ages 15 to 34, there is no cause of death more likely than one that involves a gun. In her 2015 New York Times article, “The Condition of Black Life is Mourning,” the poet Claudia Rankine starkly commented, “Though the white liberal imagination likes to feel temporarily bad about black suffering, there really is no mode of empathy that can replicate the daily strain of knowing that as a black person you can be killed for simply being black.” Nowhere is Rankine’s “condition of black life” more represented than in the custom t-shirt shops of cities such as Chicago, New Orleans, Baltimore, and Miami. In shops across the country, the “Rest in Peace” shirt—custom-made, memorial t-shirts celebrating the life of those lost to gun violence—is a staple of daily life. "Sunrise/Sunset” is a portrait-based project that captures the phenomenon of “Rest in Peace” t-shirts through portraits of loved ones who’ve purchased them. “Sunrise/Sunset” seeks to visualize the way in which a simple t-shirt serves a symbol of the ubiquity of the gun violence that disproportionally plagues African American communities and an act of protest against the ways in which African American lives are often misrepresented and, sometimes, entirely forgotten after acts of gun violence.