Art Metropole celebrated the launch of a new edition from Safety Gear for Small Animals. Bill Burns, director of Safety Gear for Small Animals, was on hand to help celebrate the launch for the limited boxed edition as well as a new hardcover publication: Safety Gear for Small Animals, a limited boxed edition of 50, linen covered, and numbered, comprised of 5 booklets with material from 1994-2005, . 23 × 15.5 × 4 cm. and retailing for $125.00 CAD, and Safety Gear for Small Animals a linen-covered, hardcover co-publication by six public galleries in Canada, 20.5 × 14.5 × 1.75 cm., retailing for 25.00 CAD.When Safety Gear for Small Animals incorporated in 1993 our goals were twofold. Firstly, to protect animals from degraded habitats and slip shod scientific research and, secondly, to provide a decent living to our dedicated workers. Exhibiting our safety gear and publishing books about the needs of animals was never part of the plan. Be that as it may, I am surprised and delighted to have been invited to display our prototypes and models of safety, rescue and relocation equipment and supplies. Never, even in our most secret dreams, did we think that our project would be celebrated by publishers, curators and art museums around the world. We are particularly delighted to be currently showing our complete collection of safety gear at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in an exhibition entitled Safe: Design Takes On Risk. Our new publication marks this occasion. Our safety gear collection is central to our business. The total weight of the collection is 1,944 grams. The pressure of the vacuum table used to produce the safety gear is eighty-four kilograms per square centimetre. If all the materials from the collection were unravelled in a line one micrometre thick it would stretch around the Earth’s equator two and three-quarters times. Forty-three different fasteners are used in the construction of the safety and rescue gear. There are 2,750 machine stitches and 437 hand stitches in the museum’s safety gear collection. Our conservation division contains 315 highly detailed scale model reptiles, birds, mammals, insects and fish, all of which could fit into two bread boxes. They have never been exhibited. Our web site provides access to sponsorship of life insurance and annuities for eleven species of fauna on five continents. Thirty-one percent of the proceeds from sales of our field guides, books, postcards, and trading cards, have been reinvested in our publication. If all the users of our toll free telephone service, 1-877-ECOSFEAR, were placed head to toe in a row they would stretch from Bombay to Poona and back again. Since its inception throngs have viewed the collection in New York, London, Los Angeles, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Paris, Seoul, Buenos Aires, Toronto, Marseilles, and Montreal. If each of these visitors were represented by a copy of the Sunday New York Times a stand of forest the size of Hong Kong would have to be pulped.
An extraordinary series of events has occurred at Safety Gear for Small Animals during the past few years. These events would take far too long to describe in a press release. Moreover they contain embarrassing personal details. Suffice it to say that although some of these events at first appeared in the guise of misery they have had a profoundly positive effect on our lives and helped make Safety Gear for Small Animals the juggernaut it is today.
Launches for these editions are also planned for Book Arts Shop in London, England in late November and at the New Museum Bookshop in New York in early December.
Bill Burns was born in Regina, Saskatchewan in 1957 and has lived and worked as an artist in Toronto, Canada and London, England. His work consists mainly of conceptual writings, artists’ books and multiples. He studied under Gerard Hemsworth, Jon Thompson and John Latham at Goldsmiths College in London, England. He is known for his Safety Gear for Small Animals (SGSA) which was first shown at 303 Gallery in New York in 1994 and later at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2005/2006 and at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London in 2008. His 2002 project Everything I Could Buy on eBay About Malaria which was shown at the Wellcome Trust in London, England is considered a seminal work in the area of electronic collecting. His work about life in the art world known as Veblen Goods was shown at MASS MoCA in 2012.
Burns has published numerous books including When Pain Strikes (Burns, Busby, Sawchuk), a critical anthology about pain and pain relief, published by the University of Minnesota Press in 1999. Other book titles include Analgesia (Rochefort,Montreal, 1993), How to Help Animals Escape from Degraded Habitats (Optica, Montreal, 1996), Urban Fauna Information Station (Mercer Union, Toronto, 2002), Safety Gear for Small Animals (MOCCA, Toronto and California State University, Fullerton, 2005) Bird Radio (Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther Koenig, Cologne, 2007) and The Flora and Fauna Information Service – 0.800.0.0FAUNA0FLORA (ICA, London, 2008). Burns has also published dozens of guides, posters, and editions. His editions are included in major museum collections throughout the world.
Burnsâ€™ work has been exhibited in major museums and biennial exhibitions since the nineteen nineties. His most notable exhibitions include the ICA in London, the MoMA in New York as well as Forum Arte y Vida at the Havana Bienal in Havana, Cuba in 2003, the Bienal del Fin del Mundo in Ushuaia, Argentina in 2007 and the Quebec City Biennial – Manif d’art 5, in 2010.
1: Artists Paige Graitland and Sandy Plotnikoff join Peggy Gale in checking out the booklets included in Bill Burns' special book edition.
2: Kevin Dowler and Bill Burns at Bill's edition launch at Art Metropole.
3: Paige Graitland and Daryl Vocat on the left, Wendy Stewart and Sally MacKay (center).
4: Bill Burns talks with a friend, while Daniel Olson's "Visiting Artist" life-size cut-out peeks through.