VICTOR BURGIN Dovedale


Galerie Thomas Zander is pleased to present the new video and photographic work “Dovedale” of British artist Victor Burgin, which was created especially for this exhibition in Cologne. Burgin first came to attention with his early conceptual photo/text-works, and since the late 1960s he has worked as an influential conceptual artist and theorist. In numerous essays and monographs he links his work, which is influenced by thinkers and philosophers like Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Michel Foucault or Roland Barthes, to a semiotic, historical and psychoanalytic context. Burgin stands for an aesthetics that blends motifs from psychoanalysis and structuralism while exploring the tensions between political conflict and aesthetic desire.

In his video works, which since the 1990s have broadened the scope of his work, Burgin turns the viewer’s attention to the real world–seen through a prism of narrative, memory and fantasy. The artist describes it as follows: “My photographic and video works are responses to the places, usually cities, to which I am invited. When I work I follow the path of my associations, of what comes spontaneously to mind. I often find that being in one place will remind me of another, or of a book, a film or a personal memory”.

In his latest video work “Dovedale”, a French woman art historian visits a German museum to study a landscape by an English painter. She sits in the café of the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum in Cologne, writes postcards and thinks about the work – “Dovedale by Moonlight” (1785) by Joseph Wright of Derby. This is the premise of Victor Burgin’s new projection work “Dovedale”. We do not see the woman, or the café, but we “listen” to her reverie as she looks at, or remembers, Wright’s landscape. What we see on the screen is a deconstruction of Wright’s painting as his virtual camera moves around it.

Burgin’s projection piece is accompanied by a new still photographic work based on photographs made by Burgin in the Peak District in Derbyshire, England, at the place depicted in Wright’s landscape.

Burgin’s works touch on questions of archived memory and multiple codings of places of remembrance. The psychoanalytic investigation of desire for an absent object subtly plays into the historiographic question of reconstructioning the past. As in earlier works, Burgin considers the institutional conditions of writing history, which is also a crucial concern for art theory, and he shows that the historical archive and the museum are closely related structures. In this way, the exhibition reflects the social conditions of artistic production and contributes to the current political and theoretical reorientation of art.

Victor Burgin (born in Sheffield, England in 1941) received various awards, among them a nomination for the renowned Turner Prize. His works are collected by major institutions like the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Gallery in London or the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, and they are on view in numerous solo and group exhibitions worldwide. Most recently, Burgin’s work has been shown at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and in the solo exhibition “Hôtel D.” in Toulouse.

Burgin held teaching positions at the University of California at Santa Cruz and the Goldsmiths College, University of London. Recently, he has been a visiting professor at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fe, Switzerland and at the Sorbonne in Paris. The artist lives and works in Somerset, England and in Paris.

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