Trigger Happy

Jailed for forgery and notorious for his weapons art, Alfredo Martinez plots his next move

"You're a sick fuck, Alfredo," Foust says, calling down from the loft.

"Well," Martinez responds, "no one's done it yet, and it's hard to do something that's not already someone else's shtick. Plus, it's funny." When asked if he deliberately tries to scare people with his work, he says, "I don't think so. You take things internally and you spew them out again. Things are coming to me and I'm just mirroring what I see. I watch the news and sci-fi-shoot-'em-ups too often. I worked for a weapons dealer in Belgium, and as a weapons consultant for movies. Plus, people are scared of everything. Particularly with my guns; they don't fire bullets. I've always made my own toys, since I was little. This is no different."

Since Martinez's release from jail he has put on one show, at the Canal Chapter Gallery in New York, during the summer of 2006. There, he displayed more paintings of firearms and elaborate sculptures of giant machine guns. The sculptures, constructed from the detritus of Soho, are identical in every way to the real guns they imitate. When he was preparing for the opening he slept at the gallery, laboring all day and night with the aid of Adderall, an ADHD medication. Lately, he's spent most of his time fixing up the warehouse and helping Foust prepare for a show. "Once things around the Greenhouse are in order," Martinez says, "I'll invest all my time into the ruins project."

The road to ruins: Martinez
The road to ruins: Martinez

Our conversation lulls as Martinez glances around the room and nods in appreciation. "You know," he says, "I'm very sensitive to environments and this space is a very positive environment for me; it's what made me want to create again. They don't have places like this in Soho anymore."

The next day I arrive at the Greenhouse and the door is locked with an official sign on the door. Here's your irony: The building has been deemed a fire hazard and condemned. A ruin, like one of Martinez's future paintings.

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