Galerie Thomas Zander is delighted to present an exhibition of new work by the British artist Victor Burgin. Blending conceptual rigour and poetic ambiguity, the exhibition investigates relations between space and memory with an impressive range of narrative and visual associations.
While exploring a Mediterranean island Burgin came across the rusting remains of a car abandoned in a stand of pines. The encounter is at the origin of his digital projection work Island Flight. Based on the photographs and notes he made Burgin has reconstructed the scene in 3D computer space, elaborating upon it through written and visual representations of the associations it prompted. In the resulting ten-minute video loop, personal memories of the island mingle with a tale from the life of Goethe, an image from a film by Antonioni and the plot of a Händel opera.
Burgin’s black and white text-image work Cythera is a companion piece to Island Flight. Depicting a cliff scenery, it emerged from an additional association to Jean-Antoine Watteau’s 1717 painting The Embarcation forCythera. Although Island Flightand Cythera differ greatly in appearance, they were made using the same ‘game engine’ software. Originally conceived for the production of videogames, the built-in programming tools of game engines allow the user to create a wide range of alternative outputs. For Cythera Burgin moved his image away from the cinematically inclined Island Flight to something closer to eighteenth century engraving.
Burgin has said that all of his works are based in an encounter with the real, and with his subsequent attempts (by definition impossible) to represent the real of that encounter. The real is always contemporary. Island Flight and Cythera alike bear inscriptions of a present reality. Accidents of birth put individuals on one or the other side of lines of privilege. Today, the island that offers a pleasant interlude in the lives of some may promise life itself, or death, to others.
Since the late 1960s Victor Burgin’s work has established him as a pioneering conceptual artist and an influential cultural theorist of the still and moving image. Born in Sheffield in 1941, he has become widely known for his conceptual photo/text works often discussed in the context of the Art & Language movement. The artist was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1986. In his extensive writings, he situates his work within a semiotic, historical, and psychological context. Burgin is Professor Emeritus of History of Consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Emeritus Millard Chair of Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, University of London. His work has been the subject of numerous international exhibitions and is represented in public collections that include the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Tate Modern, London, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, and the Centre Pompidou, Paris. In 2023 the Jeu de Paume in Paris presents a retrospective solo exhibition of Burgin’s work.