About the work
As an artist working in photography for the past thirty years, Robert Burley has been both an observer and a participant in a radical transition, the emergence of a new technology, which irrevocably changed photography, and the abrupt and rapid breakdown of a century-old industry, which embodied the medium’s material culture.
Robert Burley’s edition for the Whitechapel Gallery depicts a reproduction of a Polaroid photograph. The image shows an unidentified crowd observing the demolition by implosion of Kodak-Pathé, Kodak’s French plant at Chalon-sur-Saône, the town where photography was invented.
The edition Photographic Proof, Chalon-sur-Saône, 2007, 2017 is one of a series of photographs taken between 2005 and 2010, of film-manufacturing corporations: places which manufactured light-sensitive films and papers, the materials that defined photography for the past century.
The digitally composed image is of Polaroid Type 55, a film material, discontinued in 2008. Peeled apart to reveal both a black and white film negative and positive print simultaneously, Burley pays homage to photography’s material culture, revealing the results of chemistry interacting, the packaging which is used to enclose the film to keep it in the dark during exposure and development.
About the artist
Born in 1957 Ontario, Canada, Robert Burley lives and works in Toronto. As an artist working in photography, Burley has sought to describe and interpret the built environment in which he lives. His work often explores the transition between city and country through projects such as ORD: O’Hare Airﬁeld, Viewing Olmsted, and the Great Lakes.
Selected solo exhibitions include The Disappearance of Darkness, travelling to Art Gallery of Hamilton, 2015, George Eastman House, Rochester 2015, Ryerson Image Centre, Toronto, 2014, Musée Nicéphore Niépce, Chalon-sur-Saône 2013, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa 2013, Photographic Proof, Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal, 2009, Still Revolution, Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto, Engineering the Picturesque: The Landscapes of Olmsted, Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, Ottawa, 2008. Group exhibitions include, It’s All Happening So Fast, Art Museum at the University of Toronto, 2017, Photography in Canada: 1960-2000, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 2017, Photography Inc. From Luxury Product to Mass Medium, Fotomuseum, Antwerp, Belgium, 2015, A Handful of Dust, Le Bal, Paris, 2015, State of the City, Rochester Contemporary Art Center, Rochester. 2008, The Urban Character, Triennale of Milan, Milan, 2003. His work is included in many permanent collections including Art Institute of Chicago, National Gallery of Canada, Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography and George Eastman Museum, New York.