Andrew Burke

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Automated Artist Statement
Posted on: 2013-01-22

When I signed up for a booth for starshipsstarthere.ca at Hal-Con 2012, I wasn't sure where I belonged - I wasn't really a vendor, but I wasn't a "society" either. I felt awkward calling myself an "artist" since my "art" consisted of silly jokes thrown together in a cheap Photoshop knock-off.

But now with the help of 500 Letters I can call myself an Artist, since I have this great entirely computer-generated Artist Statement:

Andrew Burke (°1970, Halifax, Canada) creates media artworks, photos, performances and films. By rejecting an objective truth and global cultural narratives, Burke reflects on the closely related subjects of archive and memory. This often results in an examination of both the human need for ‘conclusive’ stories and the question whether anecdotes ‘fictionalise’ history.

His media artworks are an investigation of concepts such as authenticity and objectivity by using an encyclopaedic approach and quasi-scientific precision and by referencing documentaries, ‘fact-fiction’ and popular scientific equivalents. By parodying mass media by exaggerating certain formal aspects inherent to our contemporary society, his works references post-colonial theory as well as the avant-garde or the post-modern and the left-wing democratic movement as a form of resistance against the logic of the capitalist market system.

His works focus on the inability of communication which is used to visualise reality, the attempt of dialogue, the dissonance between form and content and the dysfunctions of language. In short, the lack of clear references are key elements in the work. By emphasising aesthetics, he absorbs the tradition of remembrance art into daily practice. This personal follow-up and revival of a past tradition is important as an act of meditation.

His collected, altered and own works are being confronted as aesthetically resilient, thematically interrelated material for memory and projection. The possible seems true and the truth exists, but it has many faces, as Hanna Arendt cites from Franz Kafka. By exploring the concept of landscape in a nostalgic way, he makes works that can be seen as self-portraits. Sometimes they appear idiosyncratic and quirky, at other times, they seem typical by-products of American superabundance and marketing.

His works establish a link between the landscape’s reality and that imagined by its conceiver. These works focus on concrete questions that determine our existence. By using popular themes such as sexuality, family structure and violence, he creates with daily, recognizable elements, an unprecedented situation in which the viewer is confronted with the conditioning of his own perception and has to reconsider his biased position.

His works often refers to pop and mass culture. Using written and drawn symbols, a world where light-heartedness rules and where rules are undermined is created. By using an ever-growing archive of found documents to create autonomous artworks, he tries to grasp language. Transformed into art, language becomes an ornament. At that moment, lots of ambiguities and indistinctnesses, which are inherent to the phenomenon, come to the surface.

His works demonstrate how life extends beyond its own subjective limits and often tells a story about the effects of global cultural interaction over the latter half of the twentieth century. It challenges the binaries we continually reconstruct between Self and Other, between our own ‘cannibal’ and ‘civilized’ selves. By demonstrating the omnipresent lingering of a ‘corporate world’, he investigates the dynamics of landscape, including the manipulation of its effects and the limits of spectacle based on our assumptions of what landscape means to us. Rather than presenting a factual reality, an illusion is fabricated to conjure the realms of our imagination.

His works sometimes radiate a cold and latent violence. At times, disconcerting beauty emerges. The inherent visual seductiveness, along with the conciseness of the exhibitions, further complicates the reception of their manifold layers of meaning. By contesting the division between the realm of memory and the realm of experience, he seduces the viewer into a world of ongoing equilibrium and the interval that articulates the stream of daily events. Moments are depicted that only exist to punctuate the human drama in order to clarify our existence and to find poetic meaning in everyday life.

His work urge us to renegotiate media art as being part of a reactive or – at times – autistic medium, commenting on oppressing themes in our contemporary society. By investigating language on a meta-level, he touches various overlapping themes and strategies. Several reoccurring subject matter can be recognised, such as the relation with popular culture and media, working with repetition, provocation and the investigation of the process of expectations.

His works are saturated with obviousness, mental inertia, clichés and bad jokes. They question the coerciveness that is derived from the more profound meaning and the superficial aesthetic appearance of an image.

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