Iquitos, Perú, 1935.
She graduated from the Universidad Católica in 1964 and, in the early and mid-sixties, her work revolved around painting and printmaking. Her series of linocuts entitled Lima imaginada [Lima Imagined] (1965) consists of representations of urban settings based on images in which the specific referent is removed. Also in the mid-sixties, Burga was active in the renewal and transformation of art in Peru and the consolidation of avant-garde tendencies partly through her work with the Grupo Arte Nuevo (1966-1967). After studying at the Art Institute of Chicago for two years, the artist returned to Lima where she began producing work that makes use of experimental processes and new creative strategies such as information technology, scientific registers, and engagement of “concepts”. Her work often takes the form of reports, descriptions, and diagrams that document past actions or formulate proposals to be carried out in the future, using statistics to reread the environment. Other times her work entails translating reality and language into different codes, quantifying and interrogating an existence—her own body, a poem, a community, or a portion of the urban space—we believe to be concrete.
Only two exhibitions of Burga’s work were held in Lima in the seventies: Autorretrato. Estructura-Informe 9.6.72 (1972) and 4 mensajes (1974), both at the Instituto Cultural Peruana Norteamericano (ICPNA). She reappeared on the art scene there in the early eighties when, along with Marie-France Cathelat, she presented the project Perfil de la mujer peruana [Profile of the Peruvian Woman] (1980-1981). That work, which was first exhibited at the I Coloquio de Arte No-Objetual y Arte Urbano in Medellin and later in the auditorium of the Banco Continental in Lima, displays research and sociological examination of the situation of middle-class Peruvian women aged twenty-five to twenty-nine. As early as 1967, Burga had reflected on and questioned the commonsensical identification of the domestic and the feminine. The period that separates the earlier and the later works witnessed the consolidation of a new feminist agenda in Peru.