Teresa Burga / Anna Oppermann
2 June – 4 August 2012
To this day, the work of Teresa Burga (Iquitos, 1935) holds an exceptional position within Latin American discourse on art. From the 1960s onwards, Burga developed her pop and conceptual art in a country that was ruled by a nationalist military regime between 1968 and 1980, and thus at first she had to overcome significant obstacles in order to exhibit and become known. Accordingly, her artistic endeavours took a path parallel to populist demands of the time for a “Peruvian national” art. On this parallel course, in an extensive series of drawings, sketches and installations completed during the 1970s, Burga developed her method of constructing subjectivity using gestures and repetition.
Her most important exhibition of this time was Autorretrato. Estructura. Informe. 9.6.72 (Self-portrait. Structure. Report. 1972). In this wide-ranging project, the artist used her own body to create a medical map of herself – using drawings of her profile and photographs of her face, an ECG and a light that displayed her cardiac function, and a biochemical haemanalysis. Despite the fact that the project was received very sceptically in Lima, it is without doubt one of the greatest artistic ventures of its time. Autorretrato not only was and is an ironic reflection on the traditional, pictorial concept of the “self-portrait”, but also engages critically with processes that seek to standardise the subject. Thus Burga’s work emphasises the impossibility of thinking of the body as a biological reality without including the scientific methods that in a sense construct and legalise its representation.