Ending with a Fugue is a slow perpetual demise. The repetitive succession of parts that make up a fugue serve both as a formal model for the work in the show and as a metaphor for the recirculation of history, image and style. Notions of the natural or nature as both beauty and disaster are sourced from and mapped across several sites: vulnerable landscapes, the health industry, the metal foundry and the botanical garden. These investigations are guided by a continued interest in artistic work—the process of making—as labor, economy and politics of the body.
A new video work documents the annual orchid show at the New York Botanic Garden. The spectacle is compulsively duplicated, photographed, not seen. The attraction to and image of the flower is a construct of clichés where ideals of gender and beauty are not necessarily a forgone conclusion. In the video, the camera lurks while the sounds of the garden, folded into a composition for piano by Ruth Crawford Seeger, Kaleidoscopic Changes on an Original Theme, Ending with a Fugue (1924), permeate the gallery.
The foundry is hot, the work physical. Molten aluminum ladled into sand molds of castoff button-down work shirts produce a series of gestural mono-print reliefs. The results are silvery indexes of the blue-collar uniform worn by laborers and artists alike. The shirts are made with a contemporary metal and mark an economic shift from the industrial labor of the body to immaterial and affective labor.
With an intimate connection to the gay beaches of Fire Island while also considering the molds of the foundry as material, sand is used to construct a pair of monolithic sculptures titled Barrier Island. The sand is imprinted with running shoes, natural supplements and pages from a catalog of Robert Mapplethorpe’s flower series. Mapplethorpe noted, “…photographing a flower is not much different than photographing a cock. Basically it’s the same thing. It’s about lighting and composition.” Through affect Mapplethorpe composes desire and direct-to-market art images that continue to be reproduced en mass. Supplements and running gear are luxury industries for bodies, whose markets have expanded with the decline of blue-collar labor. It is here, in Barrier Island, that work and physical labor diverge, health as a form of the unnatural, and the body/flower as an empty space for compositions are materially bound together.
A.K. Burns (b. 1975) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Burns’ 5 channel video, Touch Parade (2011), was recently acquired by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The work was exhibited as part of A Different Kind of Order: The ICP Triennial at the International Center for Photography. Additionally Touch Parade has been installed at the Sculpture Center, the Artist’s Institute (all in NY) and at TAG (The Hague, Netherlands). This spring, The International Center for Photography acquired a series of the penny hung collages from her previous show at Callicoon, pregnant patron penny pot. Burns’ collaborative work with A.L. Steiner, a feature length video, Community Action Center, was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art, NY. Screenings include the Tate Modern, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Andy Warhol Museum. Burns and Steiner have just completed a US tour of LGBT communities and the work is distributed through Video Data Bank. Burns is a founding member of W.A.G.E (Working Artists in the Great Economy) an artists’ advocacy group that is developing it’s certification program through a series of public forums produced in conjunction with Artists Space. Burns is co-editor of RANDY, an annual trans-feminist arts magazine. Collaborative performance and video work with Katherine Hubbard that explores queer esthetic and historical constructions has been presented at the Brooklyn Museum.
Gallery hours are Wednesday to Sunday, 12 to 6pm. Callicoon Fine Arts is located at 124 Forsyth Street, between Delancey and Broome Streets. The nearest subway stops are the B and D trains at Grand Street and the F, J, M and Z trains at Delancey-Essex Street.