Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Introducing CHRIS BURDEN

Chris Burden is a performance artist best known for his works where he challenged the dividing line between audience and art often putting himself in danger to do so. For his most well known performance, Shoot, an assistant from 15 feet shot him in the arm. In another, Trans-fixed, he was nailed onto a Volkswagon beetle. In Through the Night Softly, he slithered shirtless across broken glass which was strangely broadcast on television as advertising(see the clip below).

These kinds of works challenged the audience to intervene. In 1975, he began Doom in which he set a clock set at midnight on a wall and laid himself down under a leaning piece of glass. He stayed there for 45 hours and 10 minutes until a museum employee, Dennis O'Shea, took it upon himself to put water within Burden's reach. Burden stood up, smashed the clock with a hammer and left. This marked a turn in Burden's career.

He moved onto more scientific and political work reconstructing the first television, creating an instrument with which to see the speed of light with The Speed of Light Machine, and crafting his response to Maya Lin's Vietnam Veterans Memorial in which he engraved three million Vietnamese names onto hinged copper panels as a symbol of the native casualties of the war.

In a time when JackAss, David Blaine, and Jim Rose's Circus are relatively mainstream, I wonder what the future holds for the kind of performances that Burden orchestrated in his early career. Perhaps, Burden knew the answer when he stood up and took the hammer to the clock.

New Yorker/Peter Schjeldahl
ArtSceneCal/Elenore Welles
Chris Burden - Wiki
Ghost Ship
Ohio State Univ. Write-up

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