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A. K. Burns, Living Room, 2017–, wood, metal coils, plastic webbing, underglow lighting, two-channel HD video (color, sound, 36 minutes). Photo: Maris Hutchinson.

A. K. Burns

Callicoon Fine Arts

A. K. Burns, Living Room, 2017–, wood, metal coils, plastic webbing, underglow lighting, two-channel HD video (color, sound, 36 minutes). Photo: Maris Hutchinson.

In recent months it has been dispiritingly difficult to visit exhibitions without applying the lens of American politics, but “Fault Lines,” A. K. Burns’s show at Callicoon Fine Arts, couldn’t have been read without it—literally. Language was a focal point of the presentation: Steel fences featured the Rusmfeldian terms knowns and unknowns; a cast-concrete foot on a rebar leg bore the words YOU’RE FIRED; and a similar hand gracefully offered a gold-plated brass IUD in Hand Out (She Was Warned), 2017, its title echoing the silencing of Elizabeth Warren as she opposed the nomination of Jeff Sessions for attorney general.

At the New Museum, Burns’s “Shabby but Thriving” was far more ambiguous and literally messy, sited within a gallery that was partly decked out as a grubby living room lined in a cream carpet smeared with dirt. Populating the space were a number of sculptures

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