Tim Burns / Survey Against the Grain 16 March – 14 April 2012

OPENING NIGHT Thursday 15 March 6 – 8pm

 Tim Burns survey exhibition spans over 40 years. From his early work of the 1970s when Burns was actively producing explosive art actions, performance installations such as ‘A change of plan’ (AGNSW) together with his pioneering work with super-8 features of the late 1970’s.

A series of works on paper and archival material will document his early performative and conceptual work. Tim Burns is currently working on a facebook project titled DIAtribe_interacTIV supported by the Australia Council, which will be launched during the exhibition. The artist will be in-situ daily in the gallery space.

The work comprises of 300+ oversize A3 sheets consisting of records and images of previous works, most of which have been lost or have disappeared, screening of four films that have survived and a series of digi prints on paper, which are part of an edition of 20. This exhibition has been shown in-part at Uplands in Melbourne; Fotofreo in Perth and at the AEAF in Adelaide.

This collection of artefacts, images, photographs and films, grows with each exhibition. This is a historically important and fascinating opportunity to experience the work and the mind of one of Australia’s most important and true avant garde socially active underground artists. Not to be missed, especially by art historians, filmmakers, photographers, culturalists and collectors.


One of Australia’s true avant garde and socially active Artists whose artworks, using interactivity, surveillance, performance film, TV, video and painting, often broke new ground in their innovative uses of the media. A majority of the works remain unknown to an Australian audience although he grew up in the WA wheatbelt, where he now lives again. He lived and worked out of New York for 20 years mostly known there for his film and theatre work and few in Australia realise the importance of the work or his place in the history of Australian art.

The arrest of his work ‘A Change of Plan’ at the Art Gallery of NSW in 1973 became a platform for artists rights in public galleries. His successful postcard campaign in Mildura to have crosswalks installed won the American institute for graphic arts book award in 77 and his Super 8 feature film ‘Why Cars? – CARnage!’ won the New York creative Artists award and predicted the destruction of the world trade centre by Arab extremists decades before 9/11. His use of Super 8 as a serious medium predates any of the movements either in the States or in Australia. His extremely low budget 16 mm film ‘Against the Grain’ took the writings of Jean Genet on terrorism and state control and contextualised it within an Australian context. This has been translated into Japanese and Spanish and he is probably the only white man to make an international award winning comedy about the stolen generation and get away with it, again way before it became the public issue it is today.

However, the confrontations over installations and opposition to him and his works has meant that that there has not been a contemporary work of his in an Australian public gallery since the 70s and in WA there are no works in any public collections except early paintings at UWA. He was even recently censored and fired from the artist in residence program IASKA in Kellerberrin. Because his work has been viewed as film or theatre rather than art his current works reside in alternative spaces and as a result he has worked extensively in the theatre both in NYC and the east coast. Unable to finance a film after ‘Against the Grain’ Burns started again in the music video business to survive, eventually going on into TV and again made break throughs with interactive reality shows that were the first of their kind in the states and Australia.

Again his project DEVICE TV funded by the Australian Film commission for community TV [for the first time] was refused broadcast on Melbourne’s Channel 31 where John Howard’s community censorship laws were put into affect. He is also currently in litigation with the town of York over the attempted censorship and banning of a work he did for the 175 year celebrations of white settlement where he looked at court cases involving Aboriginal defendants.

As a consequence there has been little written about his work and he has been overlooked in most Australian art history records.

This exhibition is part of Art Month Sydney 2012 Also participating in Sydney Art at Night | 22nd March 6 – 7pm http://www.artmonthsydney.com.au 

Film Screening Schedule. All screenings from 2pm:
Saturday 17th March Why Cars?-CARnage!’, 1976
Saturday 24th March
Against the Grain, 1980
Saturday 31st March
Luke’s Party, 1991 Thus went Phillipa, 1981
Saturday 14th April
Against the Grain, 1980 

For more information please visit: http://www.facebook.com/TIM.BURNS.3RDDEGREE 

Special thanks to



One response to “Tim Burns / Survey Against the Grain 16 March – 14 April 2012

  1. Top show! This guy is a cutting edge artist and always has been. His best stuff is happenstance – that’s reality. Dont miss it.

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