See this review in Metro New York, Tuesday, November 12.
Living Dangerously at the New Museum’s exhibit “Chris Burden: Extreme Measures”
Imagine witnessing an intruder shoot a bystander with a .22 rifle, and the fear realizing this degenerate’s control over your life during this act of violence. Now picture yourself watching a man corner California artist Chris Burden and shoot him in the arm for his performance Shoot (1971). Terror fades into pleasure, and you are stimulated similarly to playing Grand Theft Auto V. You now live for the danger.
“Chris Burden: Extreme Measures” at the New Museum exhibits the radical performances, super-sized sculptures and installations of this artist’s 5-decade career. We are seduced by Burden’s “bad boy” violence because we desire domination. When it comes to submitting to our impulses, the bigger, the louder, the better.
Burden’s artworks are thrillingly dangerous. To my dismay, actors did not revive Shoot, but the fifth floor exhibits documentation of his body performances. Burden crawls through broken glass in Through the Night Softly (1973), extinguishes his inflamed body in Fire Roll (1973) and crucifies himself to the hood of a Volkswagen Beetle by driving two steel nails through his palms in Trans-Fixed (1974).
The Big Wheel (1979) on the fourth floor is the highlight. A fusion of performance and sculpture, a museum attendant activates a 6,000-pound, eight-foot-diameter flywheel by accelerating a 1968 Benelli 250cc motorcycle. Adjacent is a balancing act between a restored 1974 Porsche 914 and a 365-pound meteorite suspended from a steel frame (Porsche with Meteorite, 2013). On the third floor, two fully operational mortars accompanied with stacks of cannonballs exude an aura of impending doom (Pair of Namur Mortars, 2013). The force and power penetrating these marvels of modern engineering enraptures your senses as they are paraded on display like luxuries for your viewing pleasure.
Burden is a rebel to the core, and through his art we realize how fun it is to live dangerously, even just for a night.
Chris Burden: Extreme Measures
Through January 12, 2014,
235 Bowery, NYC 10002
Free Admission on Thursdays from 7-9pm
The Big Wheel is activated at 11:30 and 2:30 Wednesday through Sunday and at 7:30 on Thursdays
- Ow! Burden Shot, Fried for His Art; Kandinsky Glows: Art – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Weapons of Choice: Chris Burden Talks Porsches, Cannons, Sailboats and Meteorites (galleristny.com)
- Extreme measures. Chris burden. (designapplause.com)
- Chris Burden’s Big Wheel Motorcycle Makes Some Noise at the New Museum (animalnewyork.com)
- Chris Burden: Extreme Measures Opens At The New Museum (nyulocal.com)
- New York museum ups security as gold bar sculpture goes on show (theguardian.com)
- Heavy Metal: Solid Gold Structure Exhibited in New York (fawnreview.com)