April 4, 2014 - Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen - Victor Burgin
April 4, 2014

Victor Burgin

Victor Burgin, Office at Night, 1985–86. © Victor Burgin. Courtesy Thomas Zander Gallery, Cologne.

Victor Burgin: Forms of Telling
March 23–June 16, 2014

Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen
Unteres Schloss 1
57072 Siegen


How can the suggestive power of images be activated? What effect is generated by the conjunction of images and text? How do the images of our own memory interrelate with images from cinema or art history? 

These are questions that the artist and theorist Victor Burgin (born 1941 in Sheffield, England) has been working on for more than four decades. Burgin’s interest is focused on how while viewing photographs memories and associations are generated. In connection to this he examines the forms and methods of narration. Political aspects as well as themes from gender studies flow into his art and writing. Burgin’s work is influenced by theorists and philosophers such as Sigmund Freud, Michel Foucault, Karl Marx, or Roland Barthes. He sees himself within a semiotic, historical, and psychoanalytic context. 

The exhibition Victor Burgin. Forms of Telling in the Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen, Germany is the first comprehensive retrospective of the artist’s oeuvre in a German museum. On 900 square meters the exhibition covers an impressive range of works, from early photo-text pieces such as 25 Feet Two Hours (1967) or US 77 (1977) to photography series from the 1980s such as Office at Night (1985-86) to the most recent work Occasio (2014), which was created specifically for this exhibition. One of the thematic focus points of the exhibition is on recent pieces; next to Occasio these are Mirror Lake (2013), A Place to Read (2010), and Dovedale (2010).

As one of the very first Concept Artists Victor Burgin participated in the two legendary exhibitions, When Attitudes Become Form (1969) and Information (1970). His serial-photography pieces from the late 1960s and early 1970s, in which Burgin combined photography and text in his own distinctive way, are some of the canonical pieces of Concept Art. The artist’s use of inner monologue may be as important as the connection between an inner idea and the external world. These discontinuing encounters between images and narrative threads are one thing, suggestive of surrealism and dreams, but his work is also political in an extremely up-to-date sense.

Victor Burgin reacts to places and situations, to the cities in which he is invited to exhibit. The conceptual photography-text works from the late 1960s have been followed by digital video works since the 1990s. Presently, Burgin is occupied with 3-D computer modelling. 

Exhibition catalogue
The publication accompanying the exhibition documents meticulously Burgin’s five recent video pieces, commented by the artist. The volume also includes a text by Hanne Loreck and an afterword by Eva Schmidt, German-English, Verlag Sternberg Press.

This exhibition is generously sponsored by Kunststiftung NRW and Freundeskreis des Museums.

Viktor Burgin (born 1941 in Sheffield, England, lives in France) studied at the Royal College of Art, London, and at Yale University. He has taught at the University of California in Santa Cruz and since 2001 is a professor at Goldsmith College, University of London. He has also held guest professorships at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fe, Switzerland and at the Sorbonne in Paris.

Burgin’s works are part of numerous outstanding public collections, such as the MoMA and in the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York, in LA MOCA, in Tate Modern, London, and in the Centre Pompidou, Paris.

Major theoretical publications include Parallel Texts: interviews and interventions about art (2011), Situational Aesthetics (2009), The Remembered Film (2004), In/Different Spaces: place and memory in visual culture (1996), The End of Art Theory: criticism and postmodernity (1986), and Thinking Photography 1 (1982).

Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen
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