To mark the occasion Richard Saltoun Gallery will present the work in its entirety and in the form in which Burgin's works of the 1960s and '70s were originally shown: pasted directly to the wall and scraped off at the end of the exhibition.
1976 was the year in which prime minister Harold Wilson resigned; inflation touched 24%; the Chancellor of the Exchequer negotiated a £2.3 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund; and the Punk rock band the Sex Pistols released their debut single Anarchy in the U.K. Emerging from this historic period of economic and societal change UK76 has come to be recognized as the most succinct ideological snapshot of British society of the time.
UK76 comprises eleven large photographic prints (each 1 metre high by 1.5 metres in width) overlaid with text. The photographs were originally commissioned from Burgin by the National Community Development Project and Coventry workshop. Burgin subsequently added short texts and captions 'reversed out' over the photographs in ironic reference to fashion magazine spreads. Much of the language of the texts derives from such journals and from British newspapers and advertisements of the day. Burgin's articulation of the style of 'socially concerned' documentary photography together with graphic and rhetorical conventions from mass media was anathema both to the social documentarists of the day and to the proponents of 'art photography'. In addition to its gesture to the street, his practice of postering his works for exhibition staged both the transitoriness of the world 'caught' in snapshots and a rejection of their repurposing as commodities.