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Not just a portfolio: Teo Burki’s Graduate Showcase story

Teo Burki stood in front of the Barbican
  • Written byRachel Segal Hamilton
  • Published date 21 March 2023
Teo Burki stood in front of the Barbican
Teo Burki | Photograph: Alina Zum Hebel

Central Saint Martins MA Fine Art graduate Teo Burki could already see the potential in digital but the experience of using the newly launched Graduate Showcase in 2020 sent her career in creative directions that she had not anticipated...

Three years after graduating from UAL, Teo Burki's art career is in full swing. Fresh from a recent show, Maybe It’s Better, in Tbilisi, where she presented prints of her digital collages, she’s looking forward to heading back in London in a few months for another exhibition with Slash Arts, funded by an EU mobility grant. And, as the winner of the New Media Art Prize Tbilisi, she’s been invited to share her opinions and ideas with the city on embracing its UNESCO status as a City of Media Arts.

But she wouldn’t have gone down this path without Graduate Showcase. Teo and her course mates on the MA Fine Art Central Saint Martins were busy in the studio when the first Covid-19 lockdown was announced in March 2020. Immediately, everything switched to online – and the students began preparing to present their work digitally on the then new Graduate Showcase. For Teo, this proved more than a practical solution – it prompted a wider shift in her creative practice. “Curating a virtual showcase not only involved developing technical skills that you need for scanning or shooting an artwork but was also a way of staging an artwork within a different space,” she says. “I saw Showcase as a site-specific installation.”

In-Situ, Teo Burki, 2020

On her Master’s, Teo had been focused on making large-scale paintings by hand that combined figurative elements with abstraction, although she had some experience of working digitally already. In 2019, she had represented her home country of Georgia as a curator in a British Council Turkey project called Museum Without Walls and that same year had overseen the selection of Georgian artists for another virtual project, Digital Oases, run by Inbetweenconditions.

Instead of simply photographing and uploading images of her paintings, she began to bring this digital mindset into her own methods – producing digital collages and moving image using smartphone footage and ‘found’ YouTube videos. “The question was how the manual sensibility and the digital sensibility come together. Is there a difference between them?” Teo’s moving image work was then selected by her tutor to feature in an online screening with LUX Moving Image. During Showcase season, her work was spotted by Where’s the Frame, a London-based virtual gallery who used the platform to find graduating students to join their roster of artists.

Garden of Pomegranates, 2020, Teo Burki

Since returning to Georgia, Teo has participated in several exhibitions, through national and international art organisations, including This, That and The Other at Gori Art House, an annual open call, and Bring Me The Horizon, at Poti Art Gallery, part of an EU4Dialogue project, supported by the Goethe Institute and Poti City Municipality. Using Showcase has inspired her “a multidisciplinary attitude”. Her digital background has she believes, given her an edge. “It’s rare here in Georgia to have this experience in new media,” she says. “Graduate Showcase is not just a portfolio – it's a canvas.”

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