Zody Burke

Christina's sacrifice


The ideals and obsessions of the American mass culture lay the foundation for Zody Burke’s work. Attempting to probe the danger that occurs when (national) mythologies become too potent and transform into revanchism, she draws on moments of disconnect to glimpse the underlying fabric of the American experiment as it stands; mournful, replete with the lingering wounds of capitalism and colonialism, festering into a unique amnesia. The long reaching arms of American late capitalism are present in Estonia, as they are in any other place.

For this newly commissioned installation, Burke draws inspiration from two sources. Andrew Wyeth’s painting Christina’s World (1948) depicts a woman crawling on a lawn, gazing towards a farmhouse on a hill; while a scene from Andrey Tarkovsky’s final film The Sacrifice (1986) shows the protagonist’s wife sitting in a puddle while her home burns down in front of her. Wyeth and Tarkovsky were American and Soviet contemporaries dealing with similar themes and iconography, but there is no evidence of contact between them.

Splayed in the foreground is the Cowgirl, a figure that has become part of Burke’s iconographic pantheon. Grotesque, cartoonishly sexualised and creature-like, the denim-clad figure may be a sardonic yet sincere parody of the artist herself, as a body inherently complicit in the delusions of society. She yearns with her warped body towards the farmhouse, in an act of longing for that which remains out of reach.