The first works of Victor Burgin (1941), created in the 1960s, are marked by their conceptual anchoring and a refusal of paint. He has no hesitation in describing them, fairly provocatively, as an “anachronistic daubing of woven fabrics with coloured mud”. His photograph works and videos are notably interested in the relationships between text and image. The representation of women in society is also a recurring theme in his works. Winner, in 1986, of the Turner Prize, it was in this same year that Burgin created the series entitled Office at night, composed of seven photographs.

Office at Night

Victor Burgin
Office at Night, 1985/86
Colour print, mixed media
183 x 244 cm
Deposit 2006 - Collection M.J.S., Paris
© Photo: Galerie Durand-Dessert, Paris
View of the exhibition Le Meilleur des mondes, Mudam Luxembourg, 30/01/2010 – 24/05/2010
© Photo: Rémi Villaggi

The starting point for this series is a picture painted in 1940 by the American artist Edward Hopper, from which Burgin borrowed the title and certain details, visible in the photograph. Showing a boss and his secretary in an office interior, the scene painted by Hopper represents, according to Burgin, a “mise-en-scène of the conflict of ‘Desire’ and the ‘Law’”, in other words, latent eroticism in the patriarchal relationship of the superior and his subordinate. Burgin associates the different photographic interpretations of the Hopper painting with allusive pictograms and monochrome fields making reference to “official colours of the international system of signals”. Here, in particular, he strove “to transform the role of the woman from object of curiosity to subject of curiosity – to transform showing into knowing, exhibitionism into epistemophilia”. By disrupting the representation of the active woman, he adapts her to his era.

Young Guide

Victor Burgin explained by a « Jeune Médiateur » (young guide)