16 December 2010: Chris Burden, Selected Installations & Interview

Chris Burden, Dreamer's Folly, 2010 Cast iron gazebos, lace fabric 136 x 164 x 223 inches (345.4 x 416.6 x 566.4 cm) © CHRIS BURDEN (photo courtesy of: http://www.gagosian.com)




Chris Burden, Urban Light, 2008 Sculpture, (Two-hundred and two) restored cast iron antique street lamps, 320 1/2 x 686 1/2 x 704 1/2 in. (814.07 x 1743.71 x 1789.43 cm) (photo courtesy of: http://www.malakye.com)




Chris Burden, Lotus, 2006 Approx. 1,500 pound 1973 Lotus Europa and set of 6 original color Polaroid photographs, signed, dated and titled: "1973 Lotus Europa (1 of 6)"; "1973 Lotus Europa (2 of 6)"; "1973 Lotus Europa (3 of 6)"; "1973 Lotus Europa (4 of 6)"; "1973 Lotus Europa (5 of 6)"; "1973 Lotus Europa (6 of 6)" Lotus: 42 x 152 x 64 inches; Each photo: 24 x 20 inches (106.7 x 386.1 x 162.6cm; 61 x 50.8cm) Photo © Douglas M. Parker Studio (photo courtesy of: http://www.gagosian.com)




Chris Burden, Bulldozer, 2007, Approx. 5,000 pound 1954 International T6 crawler and set of 4 original color Polaroid photographs, signed, dated and titled: "1954 International T6 crawler (1 of 4)"; "1954 International T6 crawler (2 of 4)"; "1954, International T6 crawler (3 of 4)"; "1954 International T6 crawler (4 of 4)"T6 crawler: 65 x 112 x 54 inches; Each photo: 24 x 20 inches (165.1 x 384.5 x 137.2cm; 61 x 50.8cm) Photo © Douglas M. Parker Studio (photo courtesy of: http://www.gagosian.com)




Chris Burden, Nomadic Folly, 2001 Wood platform, 4 cloth and metal umbrellas, woven carpets, braided ropes and pillows, silken fabrics, glass and metal lamps, and CD player & speakers 11 1/2 x 20 x 20 feet (351 x 610 x 610 cm) © CHRIS BURDEN, Sep 2001 (photo courtesy of: http://www.gagosian.com)




Chris Burden, Hell Gate, 1998 Metal toy construction parts (Meccano and Erector) and wood 88 1/2 x 339 x 40 in. (224.8 x 861.1 x 101.6 cm) The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, purchased jointly with funds provided by The Broad Art Foundation and gift of John McEnroe Gallery, Inc. 2006.95 (photo courtesy of: http://www.moca.org)




Chris Burden, L.A.P.D. Uniforms, America's Darker Moments Installation view. CHRIS BURDEN L.A.P.D. Uniform, 1994, Fabric, leather, wood, metal & plastic, 88 x 72 x 6 inches (223.5 x 182.9 x 15.2 cm) Ed. of 30 (photo courtesy of: http://www.gagosian.com)




Chris Burden, Three Ghost Ships, 1991 Sailboats, one with solar panel and electronic components 3 boats: 6-1/2 x 6-1/2 x 15-1/2 feet each sailboat hull Installation at Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills Photo © Douglas M. Parker Studio (photo courtesy of: http://www.gagosian.com)




Chris Burden, Medusa's Head, 1989-1992 Plywood, steel, rock & cement 14 feet diameter (4.3 m)(photo courtesy of: http://www.gagosian.com)




Chris Burden, Exposing the Foundation of the Museum, 1986, at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA (formerly The Temporary Contemporary) (1986) (photo courtesy of: http://www.artinfo.com)




Chris Burden, Samson 1985 Turnstile, winch, worm gear, leather strap, jack, timbers, steel, steel plates Dimensions variable (photo courtesy of: http://www.zwirnerandwirth.com)




Chris Burden, The Big Wheel, 1979 Three-ton, eight-foot diameter, cast-iron flywheel powered by a motorcycle 112 x 175 x 143 in. The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles Gift of Lannan Foundation (photo courtesy of: http://www.moca.org)




Selected Interview: Chris Burden

by Robert Ayers, July 2008

Chris, if we were to trace an arc between that student in the locker in 1971 and the older artist who created this skyscraper, what would be the connection?

Testing the limits. And proving that things you didn’t think were possible can be.

You use toys a lot in your work these days. What is their significance?

I think toys are the tools by which children are inculcated into the adult word. They’re really important, but they’re given short shrift.

Does that explain the title of the skyscraper work, What My Dad Gave Me?

My father worked for the Rockefeller Foundation — he was in world health — and I used to go up to his office on the 49th floor or whatever it was. But really the piece is a metaphor for the fact that my father believed in education. He was interested in the real world. He spent a lot of hard-earned money sending me to good private schools and a private college. It’s a reference to the fact that he gave me the confidence to think that I could do something like this.

This work seems like a return to your roots in some way. You originally studied architecture, didn’t you?

Yes, I went to Pomona College, a small liberal arts college in Los Angeles. I was studying to be an architect, but they didn’t have an architectural program, so I took art courses and physics and advanced calculus. I was competing with the brainy physics and calculus kids, and they would get excited about spending 40 hours on one single calculus problem, and I didn’t find that interesting.

Art was more interesting?

I liked doing sculpture, which was just shifting over to minimalism at the time. I was one of the only kids who would go to the sculpture shop after class, and there was a eureka moment when I realized, “Oh my God! All these materials, and nobody else comes in. That stack of plywood, it’s really mine!”

So at some point I decided I would become a sculptor. I remember when I went to the chairman of my art department and told him. He said, “It’s bad enough being a painter. Being a sculptor is just suicide!”

How did you shift from sculpture to performance art?

Well, when I went to UC Irvine, I was trained as a minimalist, and I had some pretty good professors. We kept examining the essence of sculpture — how it was different from two-dimensional work. One of the things that I noticed is that it forces the viewer to move: In order to see a piece of sculpture, you have to walk around it. I thought, “Well, it’s really about body movement. It’s about physical activity.” I did a whole series of works in graduate school where I made apparatuses that you had to use — using them was the art. The apparatus was not the art; it was a tool to make you do the art.

But they were finely crafted out of stainless steel and aluminum, so people would see these apparatuses and think that they were the art. When I had to do my MFA show in the student art gallery, I was going to build a box and get into it, but then I saw these lockers off to the side and thought, “That’s the solution! Use a pre-existing box that is clearly not the art.” That was another kind of eureka moment: “I can just do something and it can be art. I don’t have to make something.”

You said a few moments ago that your father was interested in “the real world.” It strikes me that your performances were about testing yourself against reality.

Yes, and in that sense they weren’t theatrical. They weren’t about multiple performances. There’s only a first time. You’re only a virgin once!

Marina Abramovic did a show at the Guggenheim where she restaged performances, and she asked me for permission to restage the piece on the Volkswagen. I told her, “If you’re asking me, I’m going to say ‘no,’ but actually you don’t need my permission. You can go and do it.” And that became a big issue for her, the fact that I had denied her permission.

I think that performance is still very problematic for institutions, because how do you collect it? You can collect the documentation or the residues, but you can’t own a time-based event.

How do you feel about clips of your work showing up on YouTube?

Weird. I don’t know what to do about it. There was a fake MySpace page, too: A guy was impersonating me, and we actually shut him down. At first it seems flattering, but then you think, “What if he starts saying all kinds of weird things about me, and somebody reads them and thinks they’re true?”

This takes us on to the whole question of the morality of art, which I know is very important to you. I’m thinking of the position you took over that student with the gun.

Yes, that was shocking, actually. Not what he did — students do all kinds of crazy things, that’s in the nature of being young. It was mostly the reaction of my colleagues at the university as a whole. They blamed me for it, despite the fact that I was in Amsterdam at the time.

What did you think of the student’s behavior?

There are very clear rules about decorum and etiquette in the university setting: You’re not allowed to swear, there are all kinds of things you can’t say. In an undergraduate class I always used to tell students, “You can’t do a performance where you lay on the railroad tracks, because you have a responsibility beyond yourself, because you’re part of the school. I just can’t allow you to do something that will cause the art department to ban this kind of teaching.”

At the graduate level, I only met this man a couple of times, and I thought he was manipulative. He said, “I want to do something edgy, edgy, edgy.” I think there’s this need for fame that’s overwhelming. But you can’t bring guns on campus, you can’t threaten suicide, you can’t threaten others. In my mind, it was a no-brainer. I’m not saying, “Arrest him!” He just can’t be part of our club. He broke the rules.

A lot of people found your position difficult to understand because you’d made Shoot all those years ago.

I was not a student when I did that performance. In fact there was a Duchamp festival at the university, and I actually considered doing the Shoot performance as part of it. But even in 1971 I realized, if you’re on campus, then breaking the rules will be the issue, and that’s not what it’s about. I have no problem with what he did, it’s just that he did it in the context of the university. If he wants to go and walk around downtown and do Russian roulette art, then either he blows his brains out or his friends call the police.

And that was the end of teaching for you? Absolutely. My wife and I resigned on the spot when they refused to discipline the student. I can’t be associated with an institution that is so misguided.

When you were a student and you made Five Day Locker Piece, you famously commented that you wanted to be taken seriously as an artist. What’s your ambition now?

To live a long time so that I can fulfill my ideas. I have more ideas than I have life left.


Interview Source: http://www.artinfo.com/news/story/28002/chris-burden/?page=3

Image Source:







About fARTiculate

Transmissions from an island somewhere in the Philippines. Integrating daily art practice & other initiatives from the physical world down to virtual space. To see my daily artworks, you can visit my site at: http://dailypractice.tumblr.com http://brownskinartist.multiply.com
This entry was posted in installation art, sculpture and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s