Art & Culture in Chicago

The least pretentious pretentious art blog

Posts Tagged ‘conceptual art

Bad Boy Turned Architect

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burden“Today I am going to breathe water,”

explained Chris Burden in his 1974 video, ‘Velvet Water’, “which is the opposite of drowning, because when you breathe water, you believe water to be richer, thicker oxygen capable of sustaining life”. In doing so, he decided not to be bound by conventional wisdom and to mistrust everything except his own experience.  After five minutes he collapsed, choking.

Is there something wrong with Chris Burden?  Is he crazy, or is he just a good artist?  Although his artwork has tamed quite a bit over the years, it is still awe-inspiring.  But the question that his work, especially his early work, elicits in my mind is- is he doing this out of insanity or love?

Burden is best known for his early work.  Beginning with his 1971 MFA show, ‘Five Day Locker Piece’, in which he confined himself in a tiny student locker for five days straight, Burden spent his early career staging performances that explored a potentially fatal merging of art and life. Over a three year period from ’71 to ‘74, he nailed himself to the roof of a Volkswagen Beetle, lay under a tarp on La Cienega Boulevard, lay in a bed in a gallery for 22 days, slithered, nearly naked, through 50 feet of broken glass, and most infamous of all, had himself shot with a rifle. Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by Kelly Reaves

December 13, 2008 at 9:50 pm