Skip to content
March 23, 2011 / Siobhan Argent

Bernadette Burke: Voyeurism installation

Published on 11/10/11 at

‘Voyeurism : a series of portraits that are a marrying of oil paintings and video’

Bernadette Burke is a voyeur. But then again, so apparently are we all – her new installation, shown in the earthy Degraves Street subway just off Flinders Street, seems to demand that we recognise it.

The text inscribed on the window acknowledges we are all secret – or not so secret – observers of other people’s lives. This is inherently true; the second we open a newspaper, take public transport, meet friends for a coffee is the second we engage in the essential act of interacting, of observing and finally of making judgements. But Burke cleverly throws the concept of this judgement back in our face, because the text on the window has a second paragraph: ‘If someone looks back at you, are you still a voyeur?’

The faces in the window say it all. And indeed, there are faces that confront us with the idea of being the subject of voyeurism, the analyser finally becoming the analysed. The portraits of three women’s bodies are each topped with a screen showing a moving, living woman’s head. They stand and look back at the people standing below. The viewer is at once challenged and consoled by this concept; all four of us are sharing an uncomfortable moment, even if they are just heads on screens. A voyeur is only an observer, so surely the answer to Burke’s question is negative. But what if a voyeur can take pleasure in watching themselves being watched?

In an odd circle-of-life kind of way, this brings us back to our current state. We are essentially monitored by everyone we know through social networking and telecommunications, yet we are faceless and nameless in the sea of other people with which we try to keep pace. Burke’s installation is a commentary on keeping up with the Jones’, of having whatever everyone else is having, but not having enough self-awareness to acknowledge that it doesn’t even make us feel as though we are worth observing. Perhaps that is the real challenge; turn the focus inwards and forget the eyes behind the glass; they’re not really that interested in what you’re wearing.

Bernadette Burke – ‘Voyeurism : a series of portraits that are a marrying of oil paintings and video’

Multimedia installation in Vitrine Space, Degraves Street Subway, Flinders Street

Exhibition now closed


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: