Installation shot, 'Ian Burns, AND THEN...', Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne

Ian Burns works with non-traditional materials found on the streets, sourced online or from Ikea.  Because of this, his sculptures initially seem jumbled, even trashy.  For his first exhibition at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne, the artist presents – among other things – TV’s strapped together and rammed into old wooden shelves, a busted up Venus/mannequin brandishing a surfboard and a plastic kiddies’ table pierced with brooms.   Upon closer inspection however, the sculptures reveal their ingenuity.  They’re incredibly clever.

Ian Burns, 'Well Read', found object kinetic sculpture, live video and audio, 2010

Born in Australia, Burns now lives in New York, and his work offers humorous comment and subtle critiques of contemporary (popular) culture. Well Read (above) is the stand-out.  With a wry nod to the cinematic tropes of the road movie, Burns conjures up associated feelings of freedom and nostalgia with the plainest of materials.  A plastic convertible occupied by a Ken doll cruises along to a cheesy Time Bandits soundtrack.  The car’s wheels rotate thanks to the automated turntable to which they’re connected.  All this is captured on tiny cameras that produce a live feed of Ken’s flashy grin and automotive ECU’s enlivened by glittering reflections from a built-in rotating disco ball.

Ian Burns, 'Well Read', 2010 (detail)

Burns’ sculptures are difficult to explain, the way in which they reveal themselves to the viewer is what makes them so fascinating and spending time with the works is a pleasing process of discovery.  Leg of Lamb reckons this is the show of the year, so make sure you see it before it closes on Saturday.

Ian Burns, AND THEN…, Anna Schwartz Gallery, 185 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, until August 28.