We have added this previously published review as an aid to understanding the nature of the current exhibition: "Dogs & Boats & Airplanes"
"... In the gallery space, Toronto artist Bill Burns puts personal perspective on the intertwined notions of price and prestige with “The Veblen Goods,” an installation of watercolour paintings and carved logs conceptually framed around the work of the early-20th-century economist Thorstein Veblen. Running contrary to the norms of supply and demand, Veblen identified a correlation between rising cost and increased desire for luxury or “status” objects—otherwise known asVeblen goods. Burns adds an autobiographical touch to this idea of “positional goods”: “The watercolours in the show are part of a memoir I’ve been developing about the slings and arrows of life in the art world,” he says. “Quite often they are kind of brownnosing situations with critics and curators, things like that. But there are other things that show up about the art world or the art economy, things Dave Hickey would call felonies in any other trade, like manipulating the market or economies where the stakes are low and everyone is groping for those small stakes. That’s sort of what the biography is about.”
Piled on the floor of the gallery, a set of locally sourced logs—carved with the names of various art world celebrities who have affected Burns’ career—expands that personal edge into broader notions of national economies and values. “The logs conflate Veblen’s ideas with a classic ‘hewers of wood’ economy,” notes Burns. In an accompanying wall drawing, Burns classifies these names further—“Those that have helped me”; “Those who I still hope will help me”; and “Those who have wronged me.” It's an attempt by Burns to embed a narrative flow into the work: “I do a lot of projects that deal with circularity and have an internal logic, so it has to be considered within a certain personal cosmology. I’m always trying to circulate within a project.” ..."