William S. Burroughs is most famous for his experimental novels about heroin and gay sex, yet he was active in many arts. Now a new exhibition at the Center for Art and Media (ZKM) in Karlsruhe, Germany, is focusing on his lesser-known artistic output.
The exhibition, “the name is BURROUGHS — Expanded Media,” highlights the author’s film, photography, collage and audio experiments. Much of this work reflects the style of his writing. Burroughs developed what he called the “CUT-UP method” in which he wrote a text, cut the pages into pieces and rearranged them. What’s interesting about this technique is that the sense, style and tone still come through. Try it on a political speech and you’ll see what I mean.
The CUT-UP method is especially evident in his film work, which looks like it was edited with a paper shredder. Like his books, much of Burroughs’ art is more emotionally experienced than intellectually understood. His photography is often more straightforward and includes some interesting self-portraits from various periods of his life.
The exhibition runs from March 23 and does not yet have a scheduled end date.
Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.