Burden | Chicago Reader

Burden

This engrossing documentary profile of Los Angeles artist Chris Burden, who died in 2015, focuses mainly on his notorious performance pieces—including Shoot (1971), in which he videotaped a friend shooting him through the arm at close range with a .22 rifle; TV Hijack (1972), in which he held a knife to the throat of a terrified TV interviewer; and Trans-Fixed (1974), in which he was crucified on the back of a Volkswagen. Burden began as a sculptor and, as he explains in archival interview footage, prized the viewer's active participation in circling the work; this led him to performance, which consisted entirely of action. Love of movement also heavily informed the second, less sensational, and much longer phase of Burden's career, in which he created complex engineered pieces involving model cars, erector sets, antique streetlights, and finally a giant white dirigible. Filmmakers Richard Dewey and Timothy Marrinan include nominal footage of these, but they much prefer the artistic bomb thrower of the early years.

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