The art of Chris Burden pushes the viewer to consider the limits of the physical world – through an investigation of speed, weights, and measures. Though the exhibit Chris Burden: Extreme Measures is no longer up at the New Museum, there is one very obvious remnant you can see without even stepping inside the museum (which we still recommend). Ghost Ship is a sailboat handmade by Burden in 2005 that was installed on the facade of the New Museum for the Extreme Measures exhibition, and will remain there “for the foreseeable future,” says the museum. At the very top, a second piece, “Two Quasi-Legal Skyscrapers,” is another Burden piece that has been on the roof since 2013.
Ghost Ship is a 30-foot sailboat that took to to the waters unmanned (but guided by computer) on a 400-mile journey between Scotland to Newcastle, England in 2005. Two Quasi-Legal Skyscrapers is an evolution of Burden’s previous work in Los Angeles, a piece called Small Skyscraper (Quasi Legal Skyscraper), which explored the limits of what could be built atop a building within the city zoning code without a permit. The double structure cannot fail to evoke the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.
Chris Burden’s Porsche with Meteorite, which was on display at the New Museum exhibit Extreme Measures.
Both Ghost Ship and Two Quasi-Legal Skyscrapers can be understood within the context of Burden’s work creating semi-permanent to permanent additions onto institutional architecture, but also in light of the New Museum’s initiatives to allow its building to reflect the needs of the visiting art installations, sometimes permanently – think of Carsten Höller’s Slide in 2011, a multi-level slide between floors of the museum.
For a look back, check out the Chris Burden exhibit Extreme Measures, a survey of his work, that was at the New Museum from 2013 to 2014.