The art of William S. Burroughs on display in Germany

William S. BurroughsWilliam 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.