Burden of Proof

The New Museum’s Chris Burden retrospective.


Chris Burden forever earned his place in art history and pop consciousness when he was shot in the arm in 1971, under his own direction, in the seminal performance piece “Shoot.” Still, that’s probably the last thing the artist wants to talk about, given that over the past four decades he has put out an evolving body of work in a wide range of media. Iron beams, toy soldiers, blocks of solid gold, and the Volkswagen Beetle onto which he was nailed (Trans-fixed, 1974, above) are just some of the elements he has employed in his ongoing scrutiny of value and power structures. On October 2 (through January 12, 2014), Burden takes over the New Museum in New York with “Extreme Measures.” His most recent sculpture, completed for the retrospective, is a giant teeter-totter called Porsche With Meteorite. Suspended in midair will be the artist’s own yellow 1974 Porsche 914, counter­balanced by a raw chunk of metal that fell to earth from outer space. Ever the provocateur, Burden also plans to affix a large sailboat to the facade and a model evoking the Twin Towers onto the museum’s roof. New Museum director Lisa Phillips, who put together the show along with Jenny Moore and this year’s Venice Biennale curator, Massimiliano Gioni, calls Burden “one of the most important American artists living today—and one of the least known.” Prepare for an intensive education.

Watch a time-lapse video of the installation below:

Photo: courtesy of the artist and Gagosian Gallery