"Asif's Guns" to Sell Cardboard Firearms in a Pop-Up Gun Shop During Art Basel

It was around 2007 that he began layering and cutting cardboard, constructing three-dimensional, scale models of guns. Farooq quickly understood the impression these model guns had upon first glance, which included models as large as AK-47s, an assault weapon not unfamiliar on Miami's streets. He even admits to playing with one of the rifles in one of the worst places you might consider playing with them: a convenience store. "I used to like to run into gas stations with them, so I would be on camera with them ... It's funny, you get older and you realize some of the stuff you did when you were younger was not so responsible and very reckless or just not a bright idea at all."

The guns are made out of meticulously cut pieces of discarded cardboard and then glued together. The brown, raw color of the "media" and the ridges of corrugated material give it away only on closer inspection. But cursory glances and their to-scale size give a whole other impression. Chris Oh, Director of Operations at Primary Projects, notes "the false sense of power" in handling these art pieces. The impression is primal, and without thinking, if one of these "guns" are handed to you, you go for the handle and trigger, instinctively, holding it as you would a gun.

There are feats of engineering going on with these pieces, which include removable and moveable parts. "I grew up from an engineering background," notes Farooq. "My father was an engineer, so it's almost a synthesis of those two people. My mother who has an eye for beauty and my father who had an eye for engineering detail ... That's a sort of trite combination, but it really is the environment that I grew up in."

Oh said he and his partner at Primary Projects, the artist Typoe, met Farooq through a mutual friend and figured a way to push him into displaying his art in a unique way without ending up on surveillance video, or worse. "We got to meet Asif and saw how passionate he was about different types of firepower and how knowledgeable he was about different types of firearms, and each model and so on. We saw this potential. We saw the early stages of developing this concept and to go further with this concept and push Asif to create something more intricate, push farther, push the envelope and really develop what he was working on as a concept."

That idea has led to the opening of a pop-up gunshop just in time for Art Basel. "We want to imitate," Oh says, "as true as possible, the experience of going into any gun store around the country ... a lot of them have similar aesthetics, similar design as far as what they carry, so in order to familiarize the public and have that connection we wanted to create a pop-up art installation that mimicked the experience of a real gun store."

Though just one of countless exhibits timed to correspond with Art Basel Miami Beach, Farooq remains grounded to his notion of giving back to his friends, a practice he once did with his model guns. The exhibit is dedicated to the memory of William Stuart Watkins, a friend of Farooq's who died of a drug overdose. "He really loved guns and we loved guns together," Farooq says of his friend.

"Asif's Guns" opens publicly December 4 - 9, 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. (opening Reception: Saturday, December 8, 6 p.m. - 12 a.m) at Primary Projects Pop-Up Space, 167 NW 25th St., Miami. Visit primaryprojectspace.com.

Follow Hans Morgenstern on Twitter @indieethos.

Follow Cultist on Facebook and Twitter @CultistMiami.

Location Info


Primary Projects

151 NE 7th St., Miami, FL

Category: General

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 @2922509 well said. farooq's guns are dope and though the idea of making cardboard guns may not be original - what is these days? is someone who uses paint to create a painting ripping off the first painter? - the way in which he makes them and how he has chosen to display his personal craft will always be unique to his own experience. it's the context. he's not more important or deserving, he's just putting it all out there and that's fresh.


 @Anthonyvop1 go to the show and offer an honest critique, good or bad, based on the content.


Retch. What a pretentious ass. Always was a wannabe, always will be. Intimidating? What drugs was the reporter on? The 'artist' is about as intimidating as Elmo from Sesame Street.

Anthonyvop1 topcommenter

Holy crap Hans,

Do your research.  people have been making cardboard guns for years.  Nothing he is doing is unique enough or worthy enough of this band width.

Don't believe me?  Just Google Cardboard gun....Something you should have done.



As someone who has watched this series closely since its inception I have to say -wait til you see'em, dude. This whole project is about originality and its problems, among other things. 


Don't believe me? Go to this show.


It's unfortunate this article says nothing about that and is instead caught in the undeniable charms of the artist (for which one cannot be blamed), but such is our street rag. 


Thought: Why are trolls so quick to offer their highly-critical acumen on contemporary arts and yet  can barely forge an original thought, much less a sentence (or bear witness to anything outside a computer screen)?


Don't believe me? Just google anything and opine away. 


Anthonyvop1 topcommenter

 @2922509 Why are these "reporters" so easily duped into writing what people want them to right?

    You wonder why people distrust the media now more than ever is because of stories just like this.  The author was too lazy to even do a cursory internet search.  If he had he would have seen that cardboard guns have been made for years.  This "artist's" quality and originality is inferior to many others.

    The Author was manipulated and used as a promotional tool and then claims that it is others who jump to conclusions and are closed minded.

   So what is his next, great, artistic discovery?  A man who paints according to pre-drawn forms with colors that correspond to the numbers printed on the paper?



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