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Hannah Piper Burns
Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon
Recommendation by Richard Speer


Hannah Piper Burns, still from "Your Host," 2017, 3-channel video installation with sound. Courtesy of the artist

Continuing through August 12, 2018

In the three-channel video and audio installation “Venus Retrograde,” multi-media artist Hannah Piper Burns critiques the popular and pernicious genre of reality television. By digitally editing clips from the notorious ABC show “The Bachelor” and its spinoffs, “The Bachelorette” and “Bachelor in Paradise,” the Portland-based artist achieves the unlikely feat of making these programs appear even more banal than they actually are. The artifice, use of surveillance cameras, and lowest-common-denominator narrative tropes that define the genre are thrown into dramatic relief in Burns’ adept reimagining.  

In many of Burns’ video works (archived online at https://vimeo.com/hpb), serene images are overlaid with an ironic meta-text. The same is true with “Venus Retrograde,” in which scenic landscapes and romantic imagery are double-coded, undercutting the hackneyed conceits of reality TV. The viewer is simultaneously seduced and repelled by the source material, affording an ambiguous overall response. The installation is part of the museum’s ongoing APEX series, curated with vivacity and sophistication by Grace Kook-Anderson, PAM’s curator of Northwest art.

Portland Art Museum

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