Tag Archives: A.K. Burns


As part of the Horizontal Vertigo program at the Julia Stoschek Collection in Düsseldorf, A.K. Burns will restage the first two episodes of Negative SpaceA SMEARY SPOT (2015) and LIVING ROOM (2017)—and premiere the third: LEAVE NO TRACE (2019).

Negative Space is a cycle of four interrelated multi-media installations. Conjuring and deconstructing science fiction tropes, Negative Space builds each episode around a physical system: the sun (power), the void/land, water, and body. The worlds within each video germinate from site-specific phenomena, building allegorical structures for each installation. This cycle of works raises questions about how value is allocated, with respect to resources, environmental fragility, marginalized bodies, and their relationship to place…

As a formal term in art, “negative space” denotes the unseen matter between and around the subject. The subject is the focus of our attention, a definable entity. Thereby negative space is considered subordinate to the primacy of the subject. What is compelling about negative space is that it is unfixed, malleable and ultimately an open set of possibilities. I use this concept of negative space as a proposal for re-orientation and an analogy for generating agency within a subjugated position. The premise of the Negative Space tetralogy is to envision a radical cosmology wherein hierarchical relations permute. A.K. Burns*

In mid-November, Burns will give an artist talk at JSCwith curator Lisa Long, and there will be multiple screenings of Community Action Center, the 2010 video by Burns and A.L. Steiner.


Through December 15.


Friday through Sunday, November 15, 16, and 17.

Screenings at 12:30 pm, 2 pm, 3:30 pm, and 5 pm.


Saturday, November 16, at 3 pm.

JSC Düsseldorf

Schanzenstrasse 54, Düsseldorf.

A.K. Burns, Negative Space, from top: A Smeary Spot, stills (6); A Smeary Spot installation view; Living Room, stills (2); Leave No Trace soundtrack, 2016, unlabeled vinyl record, black nitrile gloves, clear zip-lock bag, silkscreen in white ink with poem printed on reverse, 31:08 minutes, images courtesy and © the artist. A.K. Burns and A.L. Steiner, Community Action Center, stills (2) and, below, poster; images courtesy and © the artists.


Curated by Nayland Blake and Kate KraczonTAG—PROPOSALS ON QUEER PLAY AND THE WAY FORWARD showcases more than a dozen video, sculpture, painting, installation, photography, and performance works, including Living Room, by A. K. Burns.

“I’m interested in genres because they give me something to push against—I don’t care about staying true to a genre, rather I’m interested in finding its edges, exploring what it is through what it isn’t…

“[The video installation] Living Room is very dark and dystopic, bodies are constantly under duress of some sort, until the last scene in the basement when there is a liberating dance sequence. In this scene, the dancers are all wearing t-shirts with language extracted from recent campaign slogans. So the shirts say ‘Or Bust,’ ‘Her,’ and ‘Again.’ Those bodies are moving, dancing in and out of sync, recirculating and reinscribing this language with a new form of agency. The video works are all set in a speculative present, where the now and fantasy can interact.” — A. K. Burns*


Through August 12.

Institute of Contemporary Art

University of Pennsylvania

118 South 36th Street, Philadelphia.

A.K. Burns
Video stills from Living Room, 2017.
2-Channel HD color, sound, 36min.
Images courtesy of the artist, Callicoon Fine Arts, NY and Michel Rein Gallery, Paris.
(Keyon Gaskin and A.L. Steiner below.)


Join A.K. Burns for the opening reception—and California premiere—of A SMEARY SPOT, Burns’s 53-minute, four-channel video installation, which will remain on view through mid-December.

This work constitutes the first in an ongoing five-part cycle titled NEGATIVE SPACE. The presentation at Human Resources is curated by Clara López Menéndez.


A.K. BURNS—A SMEARY SPOT, opening reception Tuesday, November 28, from 6 pm.

A SMEARY SPOT, November 28 through December 17.

HUMAN RESOURCES, 410 Cottage Home, Chinatown, Los Angeles.


*A SMEARY SPOT was shot in two locations: in the deserts of southern Utah and inside a black box theater, where performers deliver recitations of appropriated and altered texts that compose a loose manifesto on being. Inside this cinematic experience is a surreal narrative of bodies in transition—bodies that change, move, slip between, act and act out. Among these bodies, the land, the water, the waste pile and the theater are not simply stages upon which actions occur, [but] sprawling protagonists.

“In a moment when the logic of political power seems unyielding, this work presents an aesthetic vision—a speculative space that unbinds us from delusional inherited behaviors, where the present categories of body, mind, land, ‘one’ and ‘other’ are dispersed in favor of a new relationality. Through moving image and an elaborate (6-channel) sound track, A SMEARY SPOT allows us to inhabit this metaphysical offering, decisively rethinking our conception of language and boundaries (political, social, bodily) and their ensuing impact in contemporary understandings of politics.”

A.K. Burns, A Smeary Spot, Part One of Negative Space (2012–ongoing).