A.K. Burns

Brooklyn, NY

A.K. Burns is an interdisciplinary artist and educator based in New York. Burns has exhibited internationally including, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France; MMK Museum of Modern Art in Frankfurt, Germany; Julia Stoschek Collection in Dusseldorf, Germany; The Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, OH; FRONT International: The Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art in Cleveland, OH; The Harvard Art Museums in Cambridge, MA; and The New Museum, NY. Burns is a 2021 Guggenheim Fellow and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters 2021 Art Purchase Program, a 2018 NYSCA/NYFA Fellow in Interdisciplinary Art, and a 2016 Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard University. Burns was a founding member of W.A.G.E (Working Artists in the Greater Economy) in 2008—an artists’ advocacy group that remains active as a non-profit certification organization for Arts Institutions nationally. Created in collaboration with A.L. Steiner, Community Action Center, a video re-imagining pornographic cinema for queer womxn, trans and non-binary bodies was released in 2010 and resides in the permanent collection at MoMA. A.K. Burns is an Associate Professor and the New Genres Area Head at Hunter College, Department of Art & Art History.


Negative Space

A.K. Burns is an interdisciplinary artist whose work examines the body politic, highlighting the body’s relationships to culture, politics, performance, and criticism.

Artist Bio

Negative Space is a four-part epic that takes form as a series of multi-channel video installations and related works, that explore the violence of boundary making practices and potential agency enacted through a subjugated position. Each video work is a non-linear allegorical narrative built around a physical system: VOID, BODY, LAND and WATER. Through a process of conjuring and deconstructing science fiction tropes, the videos manifest at the intersection of politics and fantasy. Negative Space raises questions about the allocation of resources, environmental fragility, marginalized bodies, and their relationship to place. Set in a speculative present, the premise of the Negative Space tetralogy is to envision a new materialist cosmology wherein hierarchical relations permute.

Within Negative Space there is a conceptual proposal, to perceive and act from an inverted position. As a formal term in art, ‘negative space’ denotes the matter between and around the subject(s). The subject is the focus of our attention, a definable or known entity. Negative space however is a compositional gap used to accentuate the primacy of the subject. What is compelling about negative space is that it is undefined and an open set of possibilities. The possibility of becoming is an ever shifting and vital position, and thereby is a form of agency that emerges from a ‘subordinate’ position.

Negative Space, is comprised of four video installations titled: A Smeary Spot (NS0), 2015; Living Room (NS00), 2017; Leave No Trace (NS 000), 2019; and What is Perverse is Liquid (NS 0000), 2023. All works in the Negative Space cycle feature soundtracks by artist Geo Wyex.

Award Year