Robert Burnier

Region: Midwest

I create using what I call an “anti-maquette” process, where the model does not lead to an expected result so much as it provides conditions for one. Sculpting the path of a visual landscape by bending, shaping, and warping a material, I emphasize a nonlinear, unpredictable relationship between one plateau of transformation and another. Materials offer resistance when manipulated, forcing me to navigate unknown territory through each object’s creation. The specific nature and preconfiguration of each material becomes a historical fact I have to wrestle with.

For titles, I often make use of L. L. Zamenhof’s utopian language of Esperanto, developed in the late nineteenth century. Esperanto borrows from existing linguistic traditions in the hopes of providing a bridge for communication. This organic approach is appealing in its attempt at universality without erasure, not requiring a blank slate, just as I begin with a set structure of material in the work. Failed utopias and the impossibility of communion with the absolute are not just philosophical but also practical concerns, in that they are apparitions haunting society.