The Trouble With Context
Images change their meaning, depending on the circumstances in which they are read. They also change if they are pre-meditatedly interrupted, or reconfigured. The very act of interfering with found imagery takes on dimensions which resonate through history. We are now fully in the realm of a sampling culture. In this series of works, advantage is taken of sampling/collaging techniques of found imagery acquired from discount stores, charity shops and auctions.
In one series, reproductions printed onto shiny aluminium foil of popular genre paintings, landscapes, flowers, animals, domestic scenes etc are employed. In their hyper-real representations, they are a grotesque deception portraying the ideal of a perfect, quasi-paradisical life, an untroubled world, in full-colour harmony with its natural surroundings. This lie is subverted by dismantling these sets of images and reassembling them by physically and conceptually excising them from their habitats, pinning them down and forcing them to engage in a completely new discourse with adverse dimensions; a dystopia of surveillance and foreboding.
In the other series, image reproductions from a book of Derry’s political mural tradition representative of a troubled and divided people are employed. Cutting out every political sign or reference in these images and rescanning the overlapping pages, renders them a-political. They appear as photographs of large scale abstract wall paintings on gable ends. These new abstractions still maintain all of the strict sets of visual grammar employed in the creation of their original intent.
The collaging methods employed for both series are the precisely the same, though the reverse is true and the outcome is wholly different. In one series, the a-political is politicised. In the other, the political is de-politicised. Conceptually, the methods used seek to be revelatory in outcome and in this way, with irony and wit, de Burca questions inherited cultural signifiers through exposure and deconstruction of the hidden tyrannies of cultural memory.
*All exhibitions and events prior to 2012 are credited to The Context Gallery, our former name.
Benjamin de Burca is a Belfast/Berlin based artist.
He completed his degree in 1999 and was awarded a BA (hons) in Fine Art Painting from the Glasgow School of Art.
After receiving a first class Honors from the MFA program in the University of Ulster in 2006, de Burca completed two years as a co-director of the artist-led organisation Catalyst arts where he curated and installed a number of projects and exhibitions, wrote articles for Irish press, made presentations in conferences and lectured in third level institutions in Ireland. He recently completed a commission for CIRCA, art magazine
De Burca continues to exhibit internationally in a range of artistic expressions including site specific installation, photography, collage and painting. His works can be found in private and public collections.