Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Chris Burden

Chris Burden's infamous performance piece
Trans-fixed, 1974

Article in the New Yorker about Chris Burden's pieces, Shoot and Trans-fixed

American performance artist, Chris Burden, explores controversial issues by endangering himself in his performances pieces. Having studied at Pomona College and earning a Bachelor’s Degree in visual arts, physics and architecture, Burden presents intriguing performances and installations. His most famous performance, Shoot (1971), was one of his earlier performances where Burden has a friend shoot him with a .22 long rifle gun in the left arm from five meters away. In the video, we hear Burden narrate, further involving himself in the performance. In an article by the New Yorker in 2007, Burden says the motivation was “[to make] people take me seriously.” In his most infamous performance Trans-Fixed (1974), Burden laid on a Volkswagen Beetle on the Speedway Avenue in Venice, California and had nails hammered into both of his wrists during the performance like he was being crucified on the car. Up until the current years, Burden has continued this theme of provocative danger and self-harm throughout his artistic career. As the article states, Burden was heavily (and still is) influenced by Marcel Duchamp and the founding of the Dada movement in which the boundaries of what art could be were pushed to extreme measures raising questions about the ethical standards of what art is and if there should be ethical standards in art. Burden violates the wall between the viewer and the artist by his disturbing and self-harming actions—while watching Shootone desires to intervene but then the “hands-off” approach while viewing art reigns. The unsettlement that Burden plays with continues to add to the conversation about what exactly is art and how do we go about defining it with new movements?

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