Working as an interdisciplinary artist and educator, A.K. Burns perceives the body as a contentious domain wherein socio-political issues are negotiated. Using video, installation, sculpture, drawing, writing and collaboration Burns queries systems of value as they are embodied at the nexus of language and materiality. Playing with tropes and symbolically weighted imagery and giving particular attention to that which is devalued or exploited (waste, absences, subjugation), Burns works towards unraveling the traumas of late capitalism.
Since 2012, Burns has been developing a project titled Negative Space—a cycle of four interrelated multi-channel video installations: A Smeary Spot (2015), Living Room (2017), Leave No Trace (2019), and What is Perverse is Liquid (2021). The works are non-linear politically potent explorations of metaphysical phenomena and the philosophical potential of how what matters, comes to matter. Each episode is built around a physical system: the sun (power), the void/land, water, or the body. Through conjuring and deconstructing science fiction tropes, this cycle of works raise questions about the allocation of resources, environmental fragility, marginalized bodies, and their relationship to place. The opening episode, A Smeary Spot debuted at Participant Inc., followed by Living Room at the New Museum both in New York. The third video Leave No Trace, is in development with Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. Leave No Trace will premiere this fall at the Julia Stoschek Collection in Dusseldorf, Germany.
As a frequent collaborator; Burns was a founding member of W.A.G.E (Working Artists in the Greater Economy) in 2008—an artists’ advocacy group. W.A.G.E evolved into a 501c-3, in 2012 and subsequently launched W.A.G.E certification and the Fee Calculator in 2014. Burns left previous positions as core-organizer and Board member in 2015 to focus on other projects, but remains an advocate for W.A.G.E.’s original mission promoting economic equity in the arts. Additionally Burns co-edited Randy—an annual trans-feminist arts magazine—with Sophie Mörner. Randy published four issues from 2010-2013 and a compendium was compiled and distributed through Capricious Publishing in 2016. In collaboration with A.L. Steiner, Community Action Center, a video re-imagining pornographic cinema for womyn and non-binary bodies was released in 2010. Since 2010, A.K. Burns also maintains an ongoing collaborative practice with partner Katherine Hubbard, producing performance installations, videos and sculptures as well as staging The Poetry Parade…, a series of live literary interventions within museum collections.
A.K. Burns desires to integrate the role of artist and educator. The co-creation and circulation of ‘knowledge’ cannot therefore be separated from the practice of generating creative material output. It is through these ethics that Burns approaches teaching, currently holding a position as Distinguished Lecturer at Hunter College, Department of Art & Art History. Burns is represented by Callicoon Fine Arts, NY; Michel Rein Gallery, Paris/Brussels; and Video Data Bank, Chicago.