In Conversation: Mollie Burke
In this interview, we learn about Mollie Burke’s spatial explorations via her installation in the BAF Garage, and the process of transitioning her practice away from a familiar 2D space of a canvas.
BAF’s Garage can be a challenging space to work with. What was your experience like creating an installation in this space?MB
The installation reads very differently when looking in from the windows vs. being within the space. It was a challenge to make a dynamic, multidimensional composition that fit into the frame of the garage windows and reflected what I wanted in the three mirrors. Making sure the different colour strips mixed together in space from multiple viewing angles was a thrilling way to make a composition. This challenge was also part of the work. To consider space is to consider multi dimensionality, as opposed to the two dimensions of my previous work. And if I am trying to discuss notions of truth and reality, it was crucial that the work be framed and then re framed in multiple different ways, suggesting a kind of recursively and multiplicity. In summary, my experience working in the space was exactly the challenge I wanted in order to fully execute the physical and conceptual framework of the things I’d been thinking through. The experience was great.
‘Unfolded’ was your first time working in sculpture or installation – prior to this, your practice focused on painting exclusively. What was it like adapting to this new medium?MB
It’s been wonderful! It felt much more open and breathable. Breaking outside of the frame was a really exciting and necessary step for me. I had been thinking in an installation, interactive sense but hadn’t found the right space to execute these ideas. I think it was an essential step in thinking through the relationship of flatness and space to actually work in space in order to fully flesh out this conceptual and material inquiry.
Did you learn anything surprising during installation? Is there anything you would do differently next time?MB
I had different ideas and hunches confirmed in the process, but did not really learn anything new. I was surprised by how drastically and dramatically the colours changed in different types of lighting, from day to night. This is something I was always very specific about in the studio, to work in the same light and position always so as to keep a consistent colour. I debated whether or not to design and measure the room using Autocad, but I decided it was important to the process to build the room instinctively and intuitively. Since I am thinking through the body’s relationship to screen-based experience, I did not want to design the space too heavily before having spent time in it. I’m happy I chose to do it this way, and I wouldn’t have changed anything.
Does this installation share any key points of inspiration with your painting practice? How does it differ?MB
My painting practise explores ideas of fragmentation, rupture, and absence. I employ different painterly gestures, dissonant colour choices, historical references, and contemporary experiences in my work to invoke a collage aesthetic and re-present diverse subjects in a coherent, unified logic of fragmentation. This installation is about thinking through translation and liminal spaces. I treated the garage as the intersection of physicality/space and non physicality/flatness, where moments of overlap occur in our mediation of these two realities (screens vs. non screen). It took my conceptual framework out of the historical conversation of painting, and into a site specific, experiential piece, which is a very different framework for me. It was different in the material and process sense, but the formal qualities of colour and composition were actually very consistent with many of my paintings.