Billboards, like neon advertisements, are pictures waiting to be called-up on demand from our collective imagination, particularly when this concerns urban landscapes in a big city or metropolitan life. That is why Burke’s images seem familiar to us at first glance, although there is something strange about them that disturbs the known picture. For “Billboards”, Markus Burke picks up on the working methods of the advertising industry and questions their mechanisms, in that he uses their own means – in this case, digital manipulation by retouching. He removes the support structure behind the advertising spots and thus takes away their anchorage from place and purpose. Brand logos become unknown flying objects, sometimes like threatening drones, sometimes like seemingly absurd air ships floating over the landscape.
Burke’s minimum manipulation of the pictures fundamentally changes the perception of the advertising boards: instead of continuing to embody everyday occurrences of advertising messages in a consumer-oriented world, they become alien bodies that brazenly, almost parasitically, make the public space their own. And this leads observers onto further questions: in an age in which ever more drones are dominating the airways, who does the public space belong to and how can someone or should someone protect it from propaganda, manipulation and private interests?
Markus Burke, born in 1978, lives and works in Munich.