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I fear that the magic has left this place

I fear that the magic has left this place is a body of work that was inspired by the story of Karl-Göran Persson who, having received a booklet titled Om Kriget Kommer (If War Comes) distributed by the Swedish government in 1943, began to fortify his small farmhouse until he had created a giant concrete bunker that could protect himself and his entire local community. While Persson passed away in 1975, the decaying ruin of the house still remains as a monument to his endeavours. More recently, the government sent around an updated version of the booklet, now titled Om Krisen eller Kriget Kommer (If Crisis or War Comes), with advice related to more contemporary threats.

Today, this house stands as an embodiment of a reaction to such perceived threats, and its status as a ruined and fragmented construction allows us a connection to that history. An exploration of these past references can also encourage connections to be made with our present condition, naturally leading to a sense of concern about the future. In our current climate the idea of the future seems as something evermore precarious and out of our hands.

Using the tale of this fortified farmhouse as a starting point, Burke set about creating a series of images depicting both small, spontaneous constructions and observations that he felt reflected upon questions and themes such as where we exist in relation to an imagined future/or past, what it might mean to fortify a place, a home, for perceived threats that may or may not ever come and how cast-off objects and materials can function as symbolic portents.

The body of work for this project consists of a series of black and white images, a set of digital collages in which graphic elements from the original booklet (with its text removed) are combined with images from the exterior walls of Persson’s bunker house, together with a text based work. These elements aim at creating a narrative in which real events and internalised hopes and fears are juxtaposed with fictional ideas and spaces.

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