• Clint Burnham

    Clint Burnham is a Vancouver writer and teacher. Burnham is the author of numerous books, including Airborne Photo (1999), and The Jamesonian Unconscious (1995). His latest book, Smoke Show, a novel, was published by Arsenal Pulp Press in 2005. Burnham has written on such artists as Ian Wallace, Tim Lee, and Theodore Wan, and he is a freelance art critic for the Vancouver Sun.

  • Mark Laba

  • Susan Edelstein

    Director/Curator of Artspeak


Cop Puppet

October 23–November 20, 1999

‘Clint Burnham and Mark Laba are Vancouver artists whose practice includes cutting open, stuffing, and sewing up toy animals in the context of political allegory.’

As part of the city-wide performance festival Live at the End of the Century Artspeak is pleased to present a performance and installation by Clint Burnham and Mark Laba. Cop Puppet will begin with an opening night performance in the gallery, in which puppets stand in for local political figures and ‘spokespersons’. The performance props—surgically altered stuffed animal toys, freezers, obselete televisions and other ‘millennial signs’ found in thrift shops—will remain installed throughout the exhibition period along with pulp fiction paperbacks, and production stills from their video. The tape features Laba, the ‘Top Jewish Cop’ taking down Burnham in a basement suite drug bust using only accelerated invective and a set of hair clippers.

Their Collaborative Crime Puppet Shows have included ‘Casey and Finnegan’s Drug Deal Goes Bad’ at LaQuena in 1997 and the ‘Molson Indy Princess Di Memorial Landmine & Syringe Race’ for Kootenay School of Writing in 1998. Real crime shows, kids’ programming, the local news and CNN overlap and merge in a hyped delivery of text and image.

In addition to their performance work, Burnham and Laba are well known for their diverse range of writing practices. Laba’s Mack Bolen Poems was awarded the bpNichol chapbook award in 1996 and his food writing, such as ‘Who’s Who at Hooters’ have been published in CityFood Magazine. Burnham has been a frequent contributor to Boo Magazine and his most recent book is Airborne Photo, a collection of short stories.

Copies of the screenplay will be available in the gallery.


  • Cop Puppet

    Title: Cop Puppet
    Category: Artist Book
    Artist: Clint Burnham, Mark Laba
    Writers: Clint Burnham, Mark Laba
    Publisher: Artspeak
    Year published: 1999
    Pages: 22pp
    Cover: Paper
    Binding: Staple Bound
    Process: Photocopy
    Dimensions: 28 x 22 x 0.5 cm
    Weight: 114 g
    Price: $2 CDN

    Burnham and Laba presented a performance work that used puppets to mimic the structure of corporate seminars and pulp fiction drug narratives featuring contemporary political figures. Cop Puppet is the screenplay of the performance text produced for the opening night performance and also functions as a document of the event.