Selected works by Tom Burr

Tom Burr
Bitch, Immediately After Vinyl


stained plywood, metal structure, vinyl (flower)

180 x 80 x 165cm
In Tom Burr’s Bitch, Immediately After Vinyl, the title makes reference to Andy Warhol’s film Vinyl which is loosely based on Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange. Made from metal, wood, and vinyl, Burr’s sculpture balances the seductive qualities of his materials with formalist objectivity. Incorporating references to minimalism, design, and social space, Burr infuses the manufactured aesthetic and sleek lines of 60s sculpture with an ultra-modern sensibility, incorporating narrative associations. Through his sparse presentation and refined media, Burr’s arrangement compels with almost fetishistic elegance; its domestic size and ‘naughty’ details create an evocative subtext to the austerity of his composition.


tom burr by rainer ganahl

Conceptually oriented artists tend to be either obsessed or dismissive towards the objects they use. In most cases somebody else produces the work for them using standard industrial materials. The function of these objects is often descriptive, illustrating of a set of ideas expressed more accurately by textual means. The ideological value of the present or absent texts is mainly to justify the uninteresting objects in their expository function which are as quickly to be interchangeable as produced.

This explains why artists who pursue these strategies run the easy risk of ending up arrogant, cynical, arbitrary and formalist in their object choice and presentation. To be informed by an analytical and critical approach often doesn't change this trap. Previous shows by AFA and others have exemplified these failures.

A more satisfying relationship between text and objects is "staged" right now with the works of Tom Burr. Very well written texts address the social, architectural, and psychological space of the fluorescent, mirrored 42nd street milieu that one finds all over the "peep showed" world. The short instructive texts ("blue movies", "blue laws", "peep scumatrium" ...) open up a rich conceptual parenthesis which the artist filled with a series of uncompleted light interior short hand architecture in varying sizes.

These wooden models fulfill in their simplicity not just the function of restaging these more masculine interior worlds (i. e. a very psychological environment of unfulfilled canned desires), but also play with the vocabulary of minimal art. The game with minimalism is very hot these days but only few know how to play this card that most artists fail at completely.