Robert Burley

(Ontario, Canada)

Robert Burley

The work contributed by Canadian artist Robert Burley is a sitespecific installation of a monumental photographic mural on the north-facing façade of the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA). Photographic Proof (2008–09) is a large-scale reproduction of a Polaroid photograph showing, from behind, an unidentified crowd observing the demolition by implosion of the Kodak-Pathé plant located at Chalon-sur-Saône in France. Burley’s work acts as an allegory of the disappearance of traditional photographic materials: for financial reasons, the Polaroid Corporation decided to stop producing film for instant cameras.

The new work was created especially for Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal.

Robert Burley was born in 1957 in Picton, Ontario, Canada. He lives and works in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Robert Burley is interested in the traces of history, and his photographs are closely bound up with places linked to significant events. He closely scrutinizes architectural and photographic heritages in order to explore their value as memorials. For The Disappearance of Darkness (2006–08), Burley visited the sites of European and North American factories that made photographic materials and established a correlation between the history of photography and the built environment. He has made monumental reproductions of pictures showing the destruction of these historical sites (Demolition of Buildings 65 & 69, Kodak Park, Rochester, 2007, Toronto, 2008) and mounted them on walls like giant frescoes. His images take the form of mises en abyme in which photography replays its own history and techniques. Burley pays constant attention to the photographic medium and its present-day evolution, ranging from now-obsolescent supports — film- based photography and Polaroids — to technological advances that redefine the medium. His series are organized into visual episodes that meticulously record places chosen for their power to evoke a bygone time (Instruments of Faith, 2003). They attest to a documentary approach while privileging a vision expressive enough to provoke new levels of contemplation.

Robert Burley’s works have been shown in Canada (Between Memory & History: From the Epic to the Everyday, MOCCA, Toronto, 2008), at the Milan Triennial (The Urban Character, 2003), and as part of the ORD exhibition (Chicago Architectural Foundation, 2009). His project Viewing Olmsted has been shown at various venues (CCA, Montreal, 1995; Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, 1997; the Field Museum, Chicago, 1998).

1920, Baile St.
514 939 7026

SEPT. 10–OCT. 19, 2009

Opening hours of the museum, Wednesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Robert Burley, Photographic Proof, 2008. Photomontage of the installation on CCA north façade for Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal and the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal. Courtesy of the artist.