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Dogs and Boats and Airplanes

November 28, 2008
Bill Burns, Screening and Artist Talk
Friday, November 28 at 7:00 pm
Reception to follow


The main focus of my current projects, like many of my previous ones,is the flux between nature and the city. This theme of natural and civil life is at the heart of our stories about how we got into this world. Dogs are recurring characters in these origin stories. They stand in for the other while representing both home and away. Dogmen are uniquely excluded from Eden but are often granted special status of both pariah and protector. In many stories they act as guides between the walled city and the darkness beyond. For instance, in certain versions of the story, when Cain is sent out of the Garden,God sends him with a dog. It is the complexity of the dog’s role as interlocutor or double agent that particularly interests me.


The movement away from the opaque city wall toward transparency and openness has been an abiding metaphor in modern design, city planning and democracy. I have noted in my ongoing project of photographing dogs that they occupy an unusually complex place in relation to people and property. Their role as double agent is tied, now to class, now to nation, now to race and now to advanced industrialism. The introduction of elements such as boats, airplanes and modern furniture into my projects, is on the one hand an absurdity, and on the other, a cipher of modernity, global travel and capital. By conflating these elements I am prompting questions about the intricacies of our social world. I intend my project to unfold like a dream rather than a study in liberal economics.



Bill Burns’ work has been exhibited and published widely including group shows at the Museum of Art in Seoul (2003), the Museum of Modern Art in New York (2005) and solo projects at The Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) in London, England (2008) and Kunst-Werke in Berlin (2007).

He has published books and artist’s projects widely in Canada, the USA and Europe. His work is included in collections at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Art Institute, Chicago, Getty Center, Los Angeles and the Tate Britain, London.