Victor Burgin – Between
My decision to base my work in cultural theory, rather than traditional aesthetics, has resulted in work whose precise ‘location’ is uncertain, ‘between’: between gallery and book; between ‘visual art’ and ‘theory’; between image and narrative – ‘work’ providing work between reader and text. (Victor Burgin, Between
First published in 1986 and long out of print, Between charts Burgin’s passage from early conceptual art, via appropriationist works and critiques of mass media imagery to a series of photo-texts informed by psychoanalysis, semiotics, cinema studies and feminism. Photographer, critic and curator David Campany writes: “Between was first published into a time when the art markets came to dominate and dictate as never before. Art was no longer that stubborn space of resistance and reflection; it was to be part of the spectacle of neoliberal capitalism in which image is all. Self-congratulatory art fairs, artists as media celebrities, bloated auction prices, and the reduction of criticality to recognizable and increasingly empty gestures. … Burgin makes photographic work like no other artist, but his themes and motifs are drawn from experiences common to us all – the modern city, the structures of family, language as something that forms and reforms us, the power of images, principles of government, memory and history. And yet, encouraged by the media to look to art for quick messages, some audiences and critics have found his work ‘inaccessible’. Actually Burgin’s work is among the most accessible I know, if by that we mean ‘easy to get into’. It’s the getting out that’s tricky.”
Interweaving Burgin’s visual work with fragments from interviews, talks and letters, Between offers insights into the relation of ‘theory’ to ‘practice’ in a form of art which has undermined the basis of this distinction. This MACK facsimile makes Burgin’s historic and groundbreaking book available for the first time in over three decades.