Maggie Dethloff, Ph.D., Associate Curator of Photography and New Media, Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University: Having failed his draft physical and avoided fighting in the Vietnamese War, Bill Burke decided to travel to Southeast Asia on his own, photographing and documenting his journeys. Burke published his photographs from Thailand, Cambodia, and other former French colonies in two photobooks, "I Want To Take Picture" in 1987—in which this photograph appears—and "Mine Fields" in 1995. Like many young men of his generation, Burke was exposed to a great deal of war imagery in movies, television, and magazines, but his own images, which include photographs of Khmer Rouge fighters, tend towards sensitive portraits rather than images of violence. "I Want To Take Picture" and "Mine Fields", moreover, combine photographs, contact sheets, ephemera, and personal reflections. Burke often wrote autobiographical snippets directly on the photographs, as seen in "Khmer Rouge DK75 and Crew", where Burke details how the negative was scratched when his backpack broke on the road back to Thailand from Cambodia. The mundane nature of this recollection highlights its personal nature.
The Enduring Illusion—Photographs from the Stanford University Museum of Art, exhibition catalogue, (Stanford, 1996), p. 84, plate 91, repr.
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