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#157 Ian Burn

Ian Burn (b. 1939, Australia – d. 1993)
Looking through a piece of glass, 1967-8

So, we are back again to self-referential works. I can only extrapolate and speculate why they were interesting in the 60s, and that is not so interesting for me. What is interesting is why I find them appealing today – in my present circumstances, regardless of the conditions of their making.

One new speculation is arising at the back of my head that it may be some unconscious opposition to contemporary attempts to make art “useful” for society at large by expecting it to deal with contemporary issues and reflect contemporary ideologies. Moreover, a lot of nonsense that is going on in the world may also be traceable to some kind of overthinking, of reading everything out there through interpretive ideological glasses, assigning excess meaning to things and then investing energy in fighting those self-created windmills. Maybe works that insist on their most direct – tautological even – reading, are offering a much needed escape or a wake-up call from it all? Maybe that’s why I am tempted to make them, too?

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