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South African born Artist / Photographer Ralph Ziman now calls Los Angeles home, and he presents his first show in the United States this weekend. “Ghosts” opens next Saturday at C.A.V.E. Gallery on Abbot Kinney at 6:30pm. He’s put up a number of murals and wheatpastes around town drawn from the colorful and provocative imagery he’ll show at the gallery. Keep reading for insight into the source of his images and some background info on Ziman.

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Ghosts will feature a series of photographs, sculptures and installations produced during the artist’s collaboration with Zimbabwean street vendors on a series of handmade replica AK­47s. The street art you see above and below uses some of the same images to create a series street-focused murals that were also posted in South Africa.

Proceeds from Ghosts will go to Human Rights Watch.

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Images from the Show. Opens Feb 8th at C.A.V.E.

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Ziman’s work challenges the tragic cliché of our times; a war torn, violent Africa of militant and corrupt dictators, child soldiers, and unceasing civil wars fed by a growing international arms trade. Intrigued by the duality of terror and worship that firearms hold in African culture, Ziman approached artisans working in the streets of Johannesburg to commission the infamous AK­47 rendered in traditional Shona style beading. Originating as a side project while Ziman was directing Kite (the Samuel L. Jackson backed anime adapted film, starring Jackson, India Eisley and Callan McAuliffe, to be released internationally in 2014), Ghosts developed into a six­month collaboration and multidisciplinary exhibition. The resulting work of over 200 hand beaded and wire wrapped guns, incorporated in installations and photographs of the men posing with them, confront the complex socio­economic and political circumstances of the African arms trade—a multinational, multibillion­dollar industry that moves in one direction only—into Africa.

The street vendors who Ziman photographs with their crafted prop AKs required no direction in how to pose with them, brandishing their guns with the swagger of rebels and rappers, the image of weapon in hand is as synonymous as the pledge of allegiance. Crates of guns to be installed throughout the gallery and on walls, point to the unrelenting presence of guns flowing into African countries trading their natural bounty for body counts. Ghosts, in poignant and powerful imagery, aims to confront this cycle by building global awareness of the international arms trade that profits on the suffering and oppression of millions of Africans.

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