A. K. Burns: A Slow Rearrangement of Desires

A still from a film by AK Burns showing a man on an aerobed with cushions and a cat.
A Smeary Spot (2015).
A. K. Burns during a lecture at AAP.
Department of Art guest lecturer A. K. Burns lecturing in the Abby and Howard Milstein Auditorium. William Staffeld / AAP
A. K. Burns lecture
A. K. Burns gave a lecture titled A Slow Rearrangement of Desires. William Staffeld / AAP
A. K. Burns lecture
A. K. Burns prior to her lecture in Milstein Auditorium. William Staffeld / AAP

A. K. Burns is an interdisciplinary artist and educator living in Brooklyn. Burns is currently at work on a cycle of video installations that takes speculative fiction as a point of departure. The work follows a long-standing interest in the body as a site of cultural and political negotiation. Using video, sculpture, drawing, and collaboration, Burns queries the relationship between materiality and language in order to rework economies of gender, labor, ecology, and sexuality.

The opening episode from the cycle of works, A Smeary Spot (2015), debuted at Participant Inc. in New York City in the fall of 2015 and was also exhibited at Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, Oregon, in 2016. This spring, Burns is exhibiting three consecutive solo shows including an exhibition of the next video installation in the cycle, Living Room (2017), at The New Museum in New York City. Related works including a recorded album and poem, Leave No Trace (2016), are on exhibit at Callicoon Fine Arts, New York City. An exhibition titled No Time, No Place, No Body that draws on works from over a decade of Burns's practice is on exhibit at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

A self-described "compulsive collaborator," Burns cofounded W.A.G.E (Working Artists in the Great Economy) — an artists' advocacy group — in 2008 and remains a life-long advocate for labor issues in the arts. Burns also coedited Randy, an annual transfeminist arts magazine, from 2010 to 2013 and released a compendium publication in June 2016. Working in collaboration with A. L. Steiner, she produced Community Action Center (2010), a feature-length, intergenerational, socio-sexual video portrait, intended to reimage and imagine pornographic cinema. The work has been screened at numerous venues internationally including the Tate Modern in London and MoMA in New York City. Additionally, Burns maintains an ongoing collaborative practice with her partner Katherine Hubbard. Their most recent project, The Poetry Parade…, is a series of live literary interventions in permanent collections that have been staged at several New York City museums including The Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and MoMA.

Currently, Burns is a 2016–17 Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard University. She was a recipient of a 2015 Creative Capital Foundation Visual Arts Award and is represented by Callicoon Fine Arts and Video Data Bank.

Burns will focus her talk on her current exhibitions and elaborate on how camping in Utah, new materialism, access to resources, a disdain for speed and newness, the current political apocalypse, collaboration, and previous projects have influenced the development of this most recent body of work.

Related Links
A. K. Burns's Website