Victor Burgin first came to prominence in the late 1960s as an originator of Conceptual Art, when his work appeared in such key exhibitions as When Attitudes Become Form (1969) at the ICA London, and Information (1970) at MoMA, New York. He has since remained one of the most consistently influential artists and art theorists of his generation.
The exhibition features some key works from the 70s and 80s that deconstruct photographic images in relation to their juxtaposed texts, such as Framed (1977, from the series US 77), which subverts a Marlboro cigarette campaign, and Possession (1976), a series of 500 posters installed throughout the city of Newcastle upon Tyne showing a man and woman embracing next to the statement ‘What does possession mean to you? / 7% of our population own 84% of our wealth’.
Drawing on the conventions and rhetoric of mass media imagery, Burgin began to produce allegorical works with photographs and text. These works operated both on the printed page (posters, postcards, books, exhibition invitations, magazine interventions) and the gallery wall. In 1986 he wrote:
My decision to base my work in contemporary cultural theory rather than traditional aesthetics, has resulted in work whose precise ‘location’ is uncertain, ‘between’: between gallery and book; between ‘visual art’ and ‘theory’; between ‘image’ and ‘narrative’ – ‘work’ providing work between reader and text.
In this sprit Burgin has produced a number publications that defy categorization. Work and Commentary (1973) Between (1986), Some Cities (1996), Venise (1997), Voyage to Italy (2006) and Components of a Practice (2008) are not catalogues, nor monographs, nor “artist’s books”, nor “theory” books narrowly defined. Their hybrid form reflects Burgin’s hybrid thought and work.
In addition Burgin has produced a number of books that anthologize his influential essays and interviews: Two Essays on Photography and Semiotics (1976), Thinking Photography (1982), The End of Art Theory (1986), In/Different Spaces. Place and Memory in Visual Culture (1996), The Remembered Film (2004), Parallel Texts. Interviews and Interventions about Art (2011)
The exhibition at Richard Saltoun Gallery will be the artist’s first solo exhibition at a private gallery in London since 1986. It will be also displayed in tandem with the major solo exhibition Victor Burgin – A Sense of Place at Ambika P3, University of Westminster, London.
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