Tom Burr

Folding Screen, 2007
Plexiglas mirror, wood, anodised metal
180 x 180 x 6 cm

Tom Burr (*1963, New Haven, USA) tirelessly explores notions of public and semi-public spaces in his work. He is particularly interested in how these spaces change with time, becoming woven into history, life stories and subjectivity. The dynamic between the public and the private is central to Burr’s artistic practice, as seen here in an artwork that simultaneously obscures the viewer’s line of sight and actively diverts their attention away from the space concealed behind the screen by reflecting the space in front of it. As the viewer navigates this open, quite public space and the reflection changes, they are none the wiser about the space that remains concealed and implicitly private. A powerful sense of seeing, being seen and concealing enters into play, potentially undermining the emphatically minimalist aspects of the artwork.  This is typical of Burr’s artistic practice, which is often intimately connected with the notion of one space closing and another quite different, secret one opening up. This is often accompanied by a suggestion of the sexual politics of space in his oeuvre, which repeatedly references gay male cultures at various points in time. This folding screen is one of a long-running series that combines aspects of a traditional Japanese partition and minimalist sculpture. The seemingly easily transportable and adaptable screen points to the inevitably transitory use of space. 

© Tom Burr