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Victor Burgin / Then and Now

  • Slought Foundation 4017 Walnut Street Philadelphia, PA, 19104 United States (map)

Slought is pleased to announce Victor Burgin / Then and Now. The exhibition, curated by Kaja Silverman and Homay King, includes a photographic series, US 77 (1977), and three digital projection works, Prairie (2015), A Place to Read (2010), and The Little House (2005). These works will be on display from September 13, 2016- November 6, 2016.

Victor Burgin is a highly influential artist and a renowned theorist of the still and moving image who first came to prominence in the late 1960s as one of the originators of Conceptual Art. In the 1970s his work consisted mainly of large framed photographic sequences, involving printed texts either juxtaposed with or superimposed on the image. At the beginning of the 1990s he turned towards digital video, but video from the point-of-view of photography – for example, Burgin is particularly interested in the relation between stasis and movement. As the historian and critic Stephen Bann has written, "this progressive exploitation of new technologies is itself fairly uninteresting compared with the remarkable consistency of the underlying themes and propositions of his work." Throughout Burgin's work there is a constant attention to the space 'between' the viewer and the object – to the 'real' world as seen through the prism of narrative, memory and fantasy.

The loop that Burgin builds into many of his gallery video works, such as those on view at Slought, solicits from the viewer not so much a sense of uncanny déjà-vu, but a feeling similar to that of re-reading a favorite novel and discovering things in it that one had not noticed before. Our successive encounters with the images form strata, allowing us to sift through sheaths of citations. As Burgin puts it, the ideal viewer of his work is one "who accumulates her or his knowledge of the work, as it were, in 'layers'—much as a painting is created." Burgin's practice operates, to borrow a phrase from Gilles Deleuze, to provide "a story that no longer has a place...for places that no longer have a history." The task of both artist and viewer, then, is to provide the time and space for these sites' pasts, presents, and futures to be brought back into connection.