A.K. Burns has been researching, developing, shooting and editing a new multi-channel video installation that explores the notion of “negative space” The artist uses this term to address the amorphous spatial conditions between, under, and around the subject; it is a space that has no form or an unfixed form—like that of air and water. Burns considers negative space, like “the void,” as a site full of potential, a site of becoming rather than being.
Using speculative fiction as a departing narrative model, the project documents a fictional society and its relationship to territories, nature, resources, and technology. Burns has been shooting large portions of the video on public lands in the deserts of southern Utah, and the landscape has become an organizing principle for many aspects of Burns’ work and research in which both bodies and land have shifting boundaries or definitions. For Burns, the desert is a horizon line, a raw material, a site of deprivation and precarity. This unfixed form is also an analogy for a politics of bodies: persons who slip between, who wish to remain outside of signifiers.
Burns’ current research synthesizes various related sources including Johanna Russ’ feminist science-fiction novel The Female Man, Ursula Le Guin’s themes on androgynous races and eco-feminist anarchist ideologies, as well as interspecies sexuality and questions of agency and desire from Samuel Delany’s works. Burns has been also gleaning thematic content from Leo Bersani’s Homos for its anti-assimilation politics and influential essays by Donna Haraway and Karen Barad’s materialist feminism and concepts of agential realism.
A.K. Burns (b. 1975, Capitola, CA) is an interdisciplinary artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Utilizing video, sculpture, performance, installation and collaboration, Burns produces queries into the social and political constructs that give form and meaning to contemporary notions of the body. Burns has exhibited both collaborative and solo works at international venues such as Tate Modern, London; The Andy Warhol Museum, PA; Göteborgs Konsthall, Sweden; Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, OR; Project Arts Centre, Dublin, Ireland; and Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, CA; as well as at New York-based institutions such as The Museum of Modern Art, The Artist’s Institute, SculptureCenter, and The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts. She is a current artist-in-residence at Collective Address, NY, and a recipient of the 2015 Creative Capital Foundation Visual Arts Award. She is a co-founder of the artists activist group Working Artists and the Greater Economy (W.A.G.E.). Burns received an MFA from Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College and a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design. In the fall 2015, Burns will have a solo show at Participant Inc., NY, where she will present the first iteration of her currently in process multi-channel video installation.