A.K. Burns, Leave No Trace, 2016. Vinyl record with zip-bag, nitrile gloves, and accompanying poem; 31:08 min. Courtesy the artist and Callicoon Fine Arts
A.K. Burns’ Leave No Trace (2016) is an experimental audio project released as a limited edition vinyl record with zip-bag, nitrile gloves, and an accompanying poem. The recording consists of two tracks, one per side, that combine ambient environmental recordings, vocalization, sounds generated from various materials, and an old electric guitar. The title references wilderness ethics and, more importantly, points to notions of wildness and unregulated spaces, to what is natural or naturalized—and to both the privilege and subjugation of bodies and actions that go unrecorded. This record release party includes performances and readings by artists and writers including Justin Allen, Fia Backström, CAConrad, Katherine Hubbard, and Juliana Huxtable.
A.K. Burns is the artist-in-residence through the Department of Education and Public Engagement’s Spring R&D Season: BODY. Using science fiction as a point of departure, Burns is currently developing a cycle of works and installations that draws on theater, Surrealism, philosophy, and ecological anxieties. Burns’ serial work is organized around five elements: power (the sun), water, land, body, and void. It introduces a parallel cosmology where aspects move or flow and are controlled, measured, used, or cared for, raising larger questions about how value is allocated and perceived. In “Shabby but Thriving,” commissioned by and premiering at the New Museum, Burns presents the project’s next chapter, a two-channel video, Living Room (2017–ongoing), staged within an installation that explores the subject—and by extension subjugation—of the body. The video was shot within the New Museum’s 231 Bowery, a prewar building adjacent to the Museum that houses the artist-in-residence studio, and moves from the building’s basement, through its stairwells, into a series of interiors. The building exists as a kind of ecosystem or architectural body, and the people that pulse, writhe, bathe, and lounge within it become extensions of the building itself. The installation includes sculptural objects seen in the video: a couch outfitted with “underglow,” bags of dirt speckled with candy, a carpet dirtied during demolition, and fishing lures and lines stretched across walls.