William S. Burroughs (1914-1997) was an influential American novelist, essayist and artist, and a cult icon. Coinciding with the centenary of Burroughs’ birth, Taking shots was the first major exhibition worldwide to focus on his large photographic oeuvre.
“Taking Shots, its title playing on the symbolic and overt connections between Burroughs the heroin user, Burroughs the firearms obsessive and Burroughs the photographer, is the first major exhibition and publication to explore his photography on its own terms and to examine the ways Burroughs used the camera as an aesthetic and recording device.
The photograph occupies an important and complex place in Burroughs’ works, particularly in the context of his extensive and sustained critique of the relationship between word and image in late capitalism. Photography is both the production of images and a technology facilitating that production. Burroughs seems to have had little overt interest in the mechanics of this productivity.” Introduction by Patricia Allmer and John Sears
“Burroughs was fascinated by, what he believed to be, photography’s ability to disrupt the space-time continuum and to expand the viewer’s perception of the physical world. Using the cut-up technique – visuals cut from different works arranged and shuffled to conceive new connections and meanings between images – Burroughs created complex collages. For him these pieces functioned as a form of time travel, ones in which the camera was used to literally cut pieces from the continuum to then be repositioned and disseminated.” The Photographers’ Gallery
Video: Patricia Allmer and John Sears, the curators of Taking Shots: The Photography of William S. Burroughs, talk about the man and the genesis of this exhibition at The Photographers’ Gallery (Vimeo)