Ryan Burns

Profane Relics

Ryan Burns, "Profane Relics"

Comprising assemblage, collage and installation, my art examines the traces left behind by time-based processes of growth and history. My works explore the nature of objects both organic and discarded, revealing the implicit stratification of meaning and its myriad interpretations. There is a tactility and nonlinear narrative to my art that invites engagement. The scale of much of my work is immense, signifying the immeasurability of the consequences of our collective actions and the unfathomable state of the world and our places in it. I seek to deconstruct dualities such as fragility and endurance, fragmentation and wholeness, destruction and creation. I mine history and reconstruct it, attempting to excavate the future while mapping the past.

Profane Relics is an installation that examines the price paid for high-tech gadgetry. It was created by making molds of objects that I cast out of plaster and placed in an immense crate. The crate has been pried open to reveal an archaeological transect: a ten-foot square block of red soil, whose strata have been treated to reveal objects contained in the matrix. These objects tell the story of the past twenty years of war and mineral exploitation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The artifacts and waste of cultural disarticulation and total war lie with the crude hand-tools of small pit mining; traces of the bush meattrade jumbled together with discarded high-tech ephemera, smartphones and laptops, whose capacitors are assembled of coltan and other Congolese minerals.


BORN: 1974, Cincinnati, Ohio