Reading the Liminal: An Interview with A.K. Burns

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Reading the Liminal: An Interview with A.K. Burns

had balloons all over my studio and then wondered if there was a balloon fetish. Lo and behold, there was. As far as the number of videos, five just felt right, like five senses or five fingers. Two is a pair and would be too focused on comparing and contrasting, three feels like a purposeful triad and eight would feel like an overwhelming cacophony of activity. With five, it starts to feel like you're piecing together a whole body through the various monitors. 

Patricia:  Did you only choose source material that was male bodied?
A.K. Burns: Both men and women do the fetish videos, but it does seem to be dominated by men.

A.K. Burns, Touch Parade (wading), 2011. Courtesy of the artist and Callicoon Fine Arts, NY

Patricia:  Even videos with shoes?
A.K. Burns: This work instigated a few gender related questions for me. One thing I found difficult in the original videos, as in culture, is how women are represented and/or represent themselves sexually. As a generalization—I wouldn't call it a fact, but a tendency, a cultural tendency—women tend to 'perform' sexuality. Instead of just being sexual.

It's purposeful that when you look [at Touch Parade] you may or may not know that it has anything to do with fetish or sexuality. Regardless, the work elicits and should be understood through a bodily and not a cerebral cognisance. All of these videos are about a kind of display and exhibitionism. But there are certain gestures that women do that are adapted and adopted to entice, seduce and display a known impression of sex and desire. I was fascinated by the multitude of men who were enacting something that felt like an authentic exploration of body and materials. Of course this is a privilege that comes from being the primary…

Patricia:  Wait, what exactly does that mean to you? 'The privileged of the primary'?

A.K. Burns:  A massive number of images are being made through a heteronormative and masculinist perspective. If a woman looks at porn (or other media) and doesn't feel positive about it, it's no surprise. It's a vision that isn't made through or for her body. Sexuality has developed as if the male is the cultural primary, and is the lens through which most mainstream cultural production occurs. I was looking for the