A.K. Burns – A Smeary Spot (Opening episode of Negative Space)

September 13 – October 18, 2015


When I opened the door, A.K. Burns’ exhibition: A Smeary Spot opening episode of Negative space at Participant Inc. initially showed her installation work, into the space, covering around with all black and dark. The work, After the Sky Box was made of concrete with mixed objects, chair, cottons gave me a bizarre feeling from its dark color and black sands on the ground and urged me to ask questions about how I could appreciate this work and what convinced her to create it. I thought that there was not a certain way for me to imagine her work at that time, thinking about looking up the press release.

Walking toward into the gallery, the three-channel video installation work that met my eyes was screened. A person who looked like an actor was talking to herself while cleaning a military uniform, was totally confusing to me because I recognized what the person was doing, but I did not understand what was going on. Later two women were wandering in the desert, I was more confused to look at it and interpret the work with three-channel videos and its codes and narratives that were changed simultaneously. However, I became curious about these layers, when I saw the dark colored space and the desert in the screen at the same time.

I thought that the work was a substance of metaphorical signals that is different from conventional wisdom. Looking back at how I appreciate art, I was thinking conventionally, seeing things just along the way I used to consider. I realized her work is full of things that disrupt my conventional thoughts which I believed. The visual grammar of video and time-based medium was quite different from that of main media that I was used to deal with and adsorbed everyday, I was naturally confused when I faced the work. Metaphors from the work, which are important elements as the words and vocabularies in poet and novel, reminds me reading a literature in the context of video. Therefore, I could not try to understand or develop a new type of visual thinking method that encourage me to comprehend unusual way of expression in art. As I realized this fact, I tried to see and appreciate her work in depth with details, codes, narratives behind the superficial layer.

Her work, A Smeary Spot became a cornerstone of my personal history of appreciation. I have seen so many works from contemporary art that looked vague, ambiguous but I felt just uncomfortable at that time. However, this work keep reminding me to try to understand and explore to it because it bring me to learn clues about my visual knowledge to find signals and metaphors in work like literature.

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