Six questions for
Jack Burton

Tique asks six questions to an artist about their work and inspiration.
This week: Jack Burton.

Artist Jack Burton
Lives in Brussels, Belgium

How do you describe your own art practice?

I go to the studio and start to pretend to make art, and it’s very awkward and embarrassing because I don’t really know what I am doing. But then, thank god! This other man takes over. It’s a bit like slipping into a dream, I don’t really notice the transition, but pretty soon it’s the end of the day, and this other guy has made something far better than I could have. And all I need to do is make enough money and time and space available for him to make my work, so actually a big part of my art practice is me showing up to my job on a Monday, sending invoices, getting enough sleep, tidying the studio, and then getting out of the way of myself.

Which question or theme is central in your work?

I think it’s something to do with suffering but also finding it funny. Not terrible suffering of course, but the everyday-existential-dread kind of suffering.
I thought about where this comes from, and I remember going to the Buddhist centre in Cardiff when I was 17. One of the pre-meditation lessons was about how the Buddhists think about suffering and its inevitability, and the monk told us: ‘any situation becomes unbearable if it does not change, even the most pleasant experience you can imagine.’
As a 17 year old this confused me, but now that I have lived another 17 years I think it is absolutely true. You might get what you want, but after a while, it will torment you. I find this to be very funny, especially in a society that constantly tells you you need something new in order to be happy. At its best, the humour in my work points to these kinds of gaps between the future consumerism promises and the reality we actually live in.

What was your first experience with art?

One of my earliest memories I have is of me making shapes out of a piece of string with my paternal grandmother on a beach, wrapped in a towel after a swim, sitting in her lap. I was very content and it has always stuck with me. That’s kind of what art is at the end of the day isn’t it? Turning one thing into a metaphor for something else, in the company of others?

What is your greatest source of inspiration?

Mostly my friends, through conversations and getting to see what they are making. It’s like a big pot we are all stirring. And in particular my partner Aisha Christison, who is also an artist, she gives me all my best ideas.
I also copy Martin Kippenberger quite a lot.
More generally, it’s a lot of stuff I encounter day to day, like shop signs, weird advertising, hotel facades, things that have been fixed poorly. I like cyberpunk novels and sci-fi. I listen to a lot of podcasts and I learn a lot of technical stuff from youtube.
And then music. I’ve been listening to Jpegmafia a lot, also FKA Twigs, Beyonce’s new album, and a band called Fire-Toolz, that’s all for energy. For ideas for audio stuff I’ve been enjoying vaporwave and glitchcore bands like Death’s Dynamic Shroud and Klahrk & KAVARI. There are a few Keith Jarret albums I always come back to for deep thought and flow states, but my favourite is Bremen Lausanne.

What do you need in order to create your work?

Laptop, tools, materials, and a deadline.

What work or artist has most recently surprised you?

The last exhibition I saw that knocked my socks off was Collected Poems by Martin Gross at G2 Kunsthalle in Leipzig. Martin is a good friend and a constant source of inspiration and surprises, and this show was his best yet I think.
And the last individual work that really surprised me was a music video for a song called ‘This Strain of the Self’ by a band called GNOM (feat. Fire-Toolz) and the video was made by an artist who uses CGI called Balfua. I think it’s one of the first things I’ve seen that successfully melds the Blender/CGI aesthetic with music in a way that goes beyond the Uncanny Valley and into the ‘What Universe Is This?’ Ravine so often promised by CGI noodlers but so rarely delivered.

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