Teresa Burga’s Chronology

Untitled, 1967, Latex on wood
Untitled, 1967, Installation
Estructura Propuesta Sonido (Structure Proposition Sound), 1970s, Series of three drawings, ink on paper
Autorretrato. Estructura. Informe. 9.6.72 (Self portrait. Structur. Information. 9.6.72), 1972 [2011], Multimedia installation
Autorretrato. Estructura. Informe. 9.6.72 (Self portrait. Structur. Information. 9.6.72), 1972 [2011], Multimedia installation
Autorretrato. Estructura. Informe. 9.6.72 (Self portrait. Structur. Information. 9.6.72), 1972 [2011], Multimedia installation
Autorretrato. Estructura. Informe. 9.6.72 (Self portrait. Structur. Information. 9.6.72), 1972 [2011], Multimedia installation
Untitled, 1972–1974, Series of three drawings
Untitled, 1972–1974, Series of three drawings
Untitled, 1974, Series of six drawings
Untitled (Theater), 1974, Series of six drawings
Untitled (Theater), 1974, Series of six drawings
Dibujos con ojos cerrados (Drawings with eyes closed), 1974, Series of five drawings and a text
Cuatro Mensajes (Four Message), 1974, Message 1
Cuatro Mensajes (Four Message), 1974, Message 2
Cuatro Mensajes (Four Message), 1974, Message 3/1
Cuatro Mensajes (Four Message), 1974, Message 3/2
Untitled, 1975, ink on paper
OUntitled, 1970er-Jahre, ink on paper
Untitled, 1975–1978, Series of three drawings
Untitled, 1978, ink and pencil on paper
Paisaje Urbano 19… (Urban Landscape 19…), 1978–1979, Detail
Teresa Burga and Marie-France Cathelat, Perfil de la Mujer Peruana (Profil of the Peruvian Woman), 1980-1981, Multimedia installation

WORKS IN THE EXHIBITION (SELECTION)

Untitled, 1967
Latex on wood, 95 x 143 x 5 cm

Untitled, 1967
Installation
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Burga’s pop works from 1967 unapologetically take up the issue of feminine self-representation in which the woman is self-consciously fashionable, independent, and self-determined. They are also first manifestations of the attempts to eliminate traditionally understood, expressionist artistic subjectivity—believed to reside in the hand and gesture of an artist—as the works’ execution is delegated to craftsmen and assistants.

Estructura Propuesta Sonido (Structure Proposition Sound), 1970s
Series of three drawings, ink on paper, 21 x 29.7 cm each
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This work proposes a musical score based on a poem by renowned Peruvian author Blanca Varela. However, it is far from a traditional composition. The artist assigned a musical note to each letter of the alphabet, and the resulting score is a logical consequence of her predetermined idea.

Autorretrato. Estructura. Informe. 9.6.72 (Self-Portrait. Structure. Information. 9.6.72), 1972 [2011]
Multimedia installation (photographs, diagrams, medical documentation, light, sound)
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Under the concept of “self-portrait,” a series of diagrams and medical documents are presented providing a scientific, subjectivity-free approach to self-representation. The work is divided into three sections: “Face Report,” “Heart Report,” and “Blood Report,” featuring information gathered in just one day (June 9, 1972).

Untitled, 1972–1974
Series of three drawings, ink on paper, 16.6 x 21.7 cm each
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Throughout the nineteen-seventies and eighties, in the privacy of her home studio, Burga began an incessant production of ongoing drawing exercises, various incarnations of which make up a significant part of the exhibition. In the vast majority of cases, the artist employs a particular, careful procedure: she records exact data on the time she spent producing each piece. She notes date and time of the beginning and completion of each drawing, and she also takes into account all the breaks and pauses taken during its execution. Hence, each work is a minute register of the intervals of hours and minutes necessary for its completion.
Unlike well-known conceptual works by such artist as On Kawara or Roman Opa?ka, it is not the abstract time that is materialized and accounted for in Burga’s drawings. Rather, the artist meticulously supervises her own labor, taking on a managerial role to its counterpart as a worker—an executor of a project.
The drawings also constitute an unexpected bridge between the concerns of pop and conceptual art. The quasi-mechanical rendering of the pieces, reminiscent of pop art, and the critical conceptualist approach, which scrutinizes ideological biases inherent to images and language, reveal representation—be it linguistic or visual—as both dangerous and constitutive means of establishing subjectivity.

Juguetes no-útiles (Useless Toys), 1972–73
Series of three drawings, pencil on paper, 21 x 33 cm each

Untitled, 1974
Series of six drawings, ink on paper, 29 x 22.5 cm each

Untitled (Theater), 1974
Series of six drawings, ink on paper, 22 x 17 cm each

Dibujos con ojos cerrados (Drawings with Eyes Closed), 1974
Series of five drawings and one text, ink on paper, 28 x 21.5 cm each
Courtesy: aim-arteimovilización archive (Emilio Tarazona / Miguel A. López)
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This series of drawings—part of an extensive body of work executed and stored for years in the privacy of Teresa Burga’s studio—is a manifestation of the artist’s interest in the suppression of vision as a primary tool for perceiving and understanding the world. While a seemingly simple exercise, a series of scenes executed with closed eyes, it places emphasis on imagination—understood as a complex mental process. This is more than just a turn away from observation, traditionally taught in fine arts training (such as Burga received at the French Academy La Grand Chaumiére, which she attended during her stay in Paris between 1960 and 1962). It also signifies the radical change in understanding the nature and locus of artistic activity: away from the observant eye and from the hand/gesture (understood as means of expressing a unique subjectivity—“the artist’s essential self”) to a mental, analytical act, which generates concepts and ideas.

Cuatro Mensajes (Four Messages), 1974
Multimedia installation
(Carbon on paper, sketches, 16mm on video, slides, etc.)
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This installation takes “four messages,” randomly extracted from Peruvian national television on December 27, 1973, and dismantles them graphically, audiovisually, and auditively. Each message is broken down through “informative structures” which introduce alternative ways of “reading” the statements. The first message comprises the “fragmented vision” of a device (close-up views of a calculator) through a slide projection on the wall; the second message consists of film footage of a face making three silent gestures; the third message conveys the visual, graphic “translation” of a written text; and the fourth shows the playback of a recording of distorted sounds.
The third “message” appears in three variations, all derived from the following sentence:

“contra el peligro mortal de la contaminación las áreas verdes son los grandes pulmones que purifican el ambiente en que respiramos combatamos la contaminación haciendo que” (against the deadly threat of pollution, green areas are the great lungs that purify the environment in which we breathe, let’s fight the pollution by)

The first variation of the “third message” converts this sentence into typewritten triangular graphs, where each letter of each word is repeated in succession, creating appropriately larger and smaller triangular shapes, in a visual gradient of text/image.

The second variation consists of a textual structure in which every word of the original sentence (“against,” “the,” “deadly,” “threat” . . .) is replaced by its dictionary definition.

Finally, the third variation presents a series of small, rectangular papers that represent the phrase as a series of empty squares, from which the position of each letter of the alphabet within the greater structure is extracted. While each piece itself is abstract and nonsensical, their accumulation constitutes a dissected order of the entire “message.”

Untitled, 1970s
Ink on paper, 16.7 x 21.5 cm

Untitled, 1975
Ink on paper, 21 x 29.7 cm

Untitled, 1975–1978
Ink on paper, 3 drawings
[Y]O? … [N]O! …[NUN]CA! / [M]E? … [N]O! … [NEV]ER

Untitled, 1978
Ink and pencil on paper, 13 x 15 cm

Paisaje Urbano 19… (Urban Landscape 19…), 1978–1979
Unrealized project (drawings, diagrams, instructions)
Courtesy: Archive Teresa Burga
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This project was created in the late nineteen-seventies with the aim of presenting a utopically comprehensive representation of a specific section of the city. The artist proposed to undertake her analysis in the Main Square of Lima. The work would account for all elements of the site, with information being gathered over the course of a week. A variety of data and records on each aspect of the location—not only physical objects in space but also such ephemeral phenomena as lighting, meteorological forecast, star position, and sound ambience—would result in written documents, noting measurements and materials, drawings, as well as films, slides, models, and audio recordings.
The work proposes the analysis of the square—starting with its planar map and from there extending vertically upward, creating an “imaginary volume” spanning the distance that separates the Earth from the Moon.

Teresa Burga and Marie-France Cathelat, Perfil de la Mujer Peruana (Profile of the Peruvian Woman), 1980–1981
Multimedia installation and publication

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