Taking Shots: The Photography of William S. Burroughs

The Photographers' Gallery

17 January – 30 March 2014

Admission to Burroughs, Lynch and Warhol: £2.50 with National Art Pass (£4 standard entry)

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Coinciding with the centenary of the writer’s birth, this is the first major exhibition to focus on his rarely-seen photographic work.

Taking Shots, is a play on words, referring not only to Burroughs' photography but also to his heroin addiction and obsession with firearms. Included are over 100 works ranging from vintage photographs and collages to postcards, magazine and book covers and adverts used in Burroughs' pieces.

The photographs were mainly taken between the 1950s and 70s in London, Paris, New York and Tangier. As well as self-portraits, street scenes and construction sites, there are pictures he took of fellow writers and artists, like Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Brion Gysin.

Burroughs used photography partly as a research tool, but also as a means of experimentation. Processed cheaply and treated as disposable items, many of his pictures are marked and scratched, and few are titled or dated.

His photographs also formed the basis of other works. Using the cut-up technique, Burroughs produced complex collages, splicing together different images to create new compositions. The fragmented nature of his photographic practice can be seen to be reflective of his nomadic lifestyle and uneasy state of mind.

Don't miss

Also on display is Towers Open Fire, a short experimental film by Antony Balch, which influenced by Burroughs' theories of the image.

Venue information

Opening times

Daily, 10am – 6pm (Thu until 8pm, Sun from 11.30am)

"Art Fund" is the operating name of the National Art Collections Fund, a charity registered in England and Wales (209174) and Scotland (SC038331)