Tom Burr

'No Access'

SCAD Museum of Art presents "No Access," a large-scale, public project by American artist Tom Burr. Continuing his research on the recent history of architecture, the industrial sanitization of materials and the intimate, domestic vulnerabilities of inhabitants of particular urban spaces, Burr has created this outdoor public installation comprised of 18 dark steel structures in an intricate spatial arrangement throughout SCAD Museum of Art Ruins.

Tom Burr, "No Access," aluminum frames with a polished, tinted steel face, 2015. Courtesy of Bortolami, New York.
Tom Burr, "No Access," aluminum frames with a polished, tinted steel face, 2015. Courtesy of Bortolami, New York.

Each of these metal screens has two sides, one of which mimics the shape of a commercial billboard. But, instead of offering any sort of information, it displays a polished, highly reflective surface. When one stands close to the screen, the reflection is sharp; but, when seen from a distance, the reflection in the screen is seen as contorted, rounded shapes. The other side of each screen features an X shape, commonly used in architectural structures to hold massive amounts of weight. The piece creates the illusion of a mirror house with multiple reflections perceptible from various points in the space. At the same time, the piece establishes a dialogue with the surrounding buildings as well as with street traffic.

Conceptually, "No Access" departs from the historical reference of the Claude glass used by the 17th- and 18th-century-landscape painters to select views in nature. This object later became widely disseminated as an item for tourists and amateur artists and its use was later criticized for being a gimmick. Now, some authors consider it an important instance of the history of Western visual culture.

Translated to the present, Burr considers the interaction and possibilities that dark surfaces offer today, from mobile phones, computers, TV screens, cinema screens and billboards. Burr posits that these devices simultaneously open possibilities of information and access and negate them by the simplicity of their nature.

For the artist, these dark surfaces become interfaces of paradox. Beyond making a prescriptive commentary on the role of such devices, Burr considers these interstitial spaces as fertile sites for poetry and critical thinking, evocative of the history of visual culture, image production, and our physical and sometimes intimate relation to technology.

Burr is also presenting "Sedimental," a survey of the artist’s last two decades of work on view in Gallery 108 inside the museum.

This exhibition is part of SCAD deFINE ART 2018, held Feb. 20–23 at university locations in Savannah and Atlanta, Georgia, and Hong Kong. SCAD deFINE ART is an annual program of exhibitions, lectures, performances and public events that highlights emerging and established artists and visionaries.


"No Access" is organized by Humberto Moro, SCAD curator of exhibitions.

Museum Admission

The exhibition is free and open to the public.

Partners and sponsors

Funding for Tom Burr: "No Access" has been generously provided by Bortolami Gallery and Hannah Hoffman Gallery, Los Angeles.

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