William S Burroughs Explored Through His Visual Art

New Exhibition Opens In Germany “The name is BURROUGHS” − Expanded Media

William S Burroughs is internationally known for his literary works such as, “Naked Lunch” and “The Soft Machine” but the multi-layered  Burroughs (1914-1997) is far less known, by contrast, as a cross-media artist, who also produced a comprehensive, varied body of work that no less experiments with audio tape, film and photography as it does with painting and collages. The comprehensive exhibition the name is BURROUGHS − Expanded Media presents the author’s artistic output in Germany for the first time. It examines the multiple affiliations between literary and experimental image production, further augmenting the image by way of the representation of “collaborations” Burroughs produced in association with other artists. The exhibition gains additional appeal thanks to a series of works by contemporary international artists who each make unambiguous reference to Burroughs’ writings and his method of “expanded media”, and thus, from a present-day perspective, sound out the individual pictorial potential.

The exhibition’s goal is to make tangible, in review and for the first time within Europe on such a scale, the visionary volatility of William S. Burroughs’ literary output while at the same time showing the impact of his ideas and philosophy on a wider network of authors, musicians, composers, painters, photographers, video artists and filmmakers. Now, at the beginning of the 21st century, Burroughs is more than ever considered – especially owing to the experiments he carried out in the 1960s together with painter, author, inventor Brion Gysin, with mathematician Ian Sommerville and filmmaker Antony Balch − as a pioneer of media art. In this respect, with the exhibition the name is BURROUGHS − Expanded Media, the ZKM also reflects the institution’s unique mandate and its own history − that it was, indeed, Burroughs, who was awarded the first Siemens Media Prize in Karlsruhe, in 1993.

Curators: Udo Breger, Axel Heil and Peter Weibel with valuable support by James Grauerholz and his staff

Publication: In conjunction with the exhibition, a richly illustrated publication on William S. Burroughs as representative figure of the counterculture is available; the work includes a written contribution by Ian MacFadyen, and is edited by Axel Heil as part of his series “Future of the Past” (Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne).

During the exhibition, the ZKM plans, in cooperation with the “Estate of William S. Burroughs”, a comprehensive publication including numerous essays and over 300 illustrations mostly hitherto unpublished works from the artist’s varied oeuvre.
William Burroughs was one of the first to cross the dangerous boundaries of queer and drug culture in the 1950s, and write about his experiences. Eventually he was hailed the godfather of the beat generation and influenced artists for generations to come. However, his friends were left wondering, did William ever find happiness? This extremely personal documentary breaks the surface of the troubled and brilliant world of one of the greatest authors of all time.

Apart from his solo art works, WB also produced work with Brion Gysin, Robert Rauschenberg, George Condo, Keith Haring, Philip Taaffe, Robert Wilson, Laurie Anderson and Tom Waits. His influence as both role model for the disaffected outsider and as revolutionary literary innovator resonates through the work of key figures in other fields. Among his many fans are Patti Smith, Kurt Cobain, Lou Reed, Anthony Burgess, Terry Southern, Norman Mailer, J.G. Ballard, Thomas Pynchon, Michael Moorcock, William Gibson, David Bowie, REM, Aphex Twin, Nic Roeg, David Cronenberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Gus Van Sant, Martin Amis, Irvine Welsh, Will Self, Brian Eno, Bruce Nauman and Kathy Acker.

ZKM | Museum of Contemporary Art  Lorenzstraße 19  D – 76135 Karlsruhe, Germany  Opening: Fri, March 23rd, 2012, 7 p.m. at ZKM_Foyer

Acrylic on canvas  60 x 90cm The Unseen Art of William S. Burroughs –
Pistol Poem’ at Riflemaker, London 2005

Portrait Of The Artist As A Psychotic Junkie.
Self-Portrait By William S. Burroughs, 1959.

(Image Courtesy Of Columbia University Library.)

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