As much as Burden seems to enjoy talking about his own wild years, he has zero interest in re-creating his early performances. He doesn’t want anybody else to do them, either. In 2004 he turned down artist Marina Abramovic’s request to stage her own version of Trans-fixed (1974), in which Burden was nailed, through his palms, to a Volkswagen Beetle. He calls the idea of a reprisal “inane.”
“I never thought of my things as theater,” says Burden, a bit baffled that anyone would fail to understand. “They were like scientific experiments. There’s no second time. The first time you do something only happens once."