Cristin Tierney Gallery exhibits a historic installation work by Victor Burgin

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Cristin Tierney Gallery exhibits a historic installation work by Victor Burgin
Victor Burgin, Photopath, installation view, Nottingham, 1967.

NEW YORK, NY.- Cristin Tierney Gallery presents Photopath, a historic installation work by Victor Burgin. Photopath opened the evening of Friday, January 20th, and marks the first time this work has been shown in New York City in 50 years. 

Photopath, 1967-69, is among Victor Burgin's most renowned works. It was made shortly after his graduation from Yale University School of Art and Architecture, at a time when many artists were rethinking the conventions of artmaking, and especially the status of the material object in art. Photopath is in essence not strictly material; it primarily consists of a simple set of instructions typed on an index card:

A path along the floor, of proportions 1×21 units, photographed. Photographs printed to actual size of objects and prints attached to floor so that images are perfectly congruent with their objects.

Each physical realization is a singular, site-specific instance of the idea. Burgin has presented the piece several times, notably as part of the exhibition When Attitudes Become Form at London's Institute of Contemporary Art in 1969, in the 1971 Guggenheim international Exhibition and, most recently, at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2011. At Cristin Tierney Gallery, Photopath will replicate the gallery's pine floor with a set of photographic prints laid end to end, stretching from one side of the space to the other.

Idea, image, and object simultaneously, Photopath functions as an index of the thing and the thing itself. The work embodies many key aspects of historic conceptual art, including the self-reflexivity and site specificity of photography, as well as its critical distance from questions of authorship, originality, rarity, and preciousness.

In his new book about the work, Victor Burgin's Photopath (MACK, 2022), curator and writer David Campany neatly summarizes its prescience:

[J]ust as Vermeer had pursued an important technical development in the picturing of three-dimensional space, so too had Burgin anticipated aspects of representation that are just as pervasive: the replication of surfaces, and the uncertain space between images and their mental impressions. Fake leaves on plastic plants. Laminated tabletops imitating stone or wood. Synthetic clothing pretending to be denim or leather. Construction sites cloaked in actual-size depictions of their demolished past or projected future. Photographic 'skins' are everywhere in contemporary life. They are not pictures, at least not in the conventional sense, but are a fact of our contemporary material, visual, and virtual experience.[1]

A survey exhibition of Burgin's conceptual, photographic, and moving image works, curated by Pia Viewing, will open at the Jeu de Paume in Paris in October 2023. The exhibition is expected to travel in the United States and Europe.

Victor Burgin (b. 1941, Sheffield, United Kingdom) first came to prominence in the late 1960s as one of the originators of Conceptual Art. His work appeared in such key exhibitions as Harald Szeemann's Live in Your Head: When Attitudes Become Form (1969) at the ICA London, and Kynaston McShine's Information (1970) at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Since then, he has had solo exhibitions at the Museum für Gegenwartkunst Siegen, Kunsthalle Bremerhaven, MAMCO Musée d'art moderne et contemporain, Canadian Centre for Architecture, Mücsarnok Museum, University at Buffalo Art Gallery, Musée d'art moderne Villeneuve d'Ascq, The List Visual Arts Center, Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, Musée de la Ville de Calais, The Museum of Modern Art in Oxford, and Stedelijk van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven. His work appears in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, New York Public Library, Walker Art Center, Tate Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, Museum Ludwig, Fotomuseum Winterthur, Musée national d'art moderne, Sammlung Falckenberg, and The Arts Council Collection in London.

Burgin graduated from the School of Painting at the Royal College of Art, London, in 1965, where his teachers included the philosopher and novelist Iris Murdoch, and then went on to study Philosophy and Fine Art at Yale University School of Art and Architecture, where his teachers included Robert Morris and Donald Judd. Burgin is Professor of Visual Culture at the University of Southampton, Professor Emeritus of History of Consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz and Emeritus Millard Chair of Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, London. In 2015 he was a Mellon Fellow and Visiting Professor in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. He lives and works in South West France and Paris.

[1] David Campany, Victor Burgin's Photopath (London: MACK, 2022), 8.

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