A Tale of Two Cities
Are you in the mood for trucks, gold, cannons, and a new perspective on the machinery of war? Look no further!
In Chris Burden’s first major U.S. show in over 10 years, the artist ensnares our attention with a vast mixture of mediums that fill all five floors of the gallery and spill over onto the exterior of the New Museum. Burden here exhibits huge installations, videos, and sound, as well as accounts of his previous works. The binders chronicling Burden’s earlier pieces are all photographs with accompanying descriptions. Explanations of each work are also provided by the artist himself, all in first person.
On the first floor we see the One Ton Truck, kept here because it did not fit in the elevator. On the floor above we are faced with A Tale of Two Cities, constructed out of thousands of toys and framed by gigantic looking greenery; from afar, the detailed arrangement of the objects could easily be mistaken for a real metropolis. Next to it hang 600 toy submarines (one for every sub currently owned by the United States military) like a swarm of bees.
All the Submarines of the United States of America
The most glitzy item, the golden Tower of Power, sits illuminated behind closed doors. In order to view it, visitors must place their bags in a locker before they are escorted to the four million dollar inquiry on the value money. The fourth floor of the New Museum is the temporary home of Burden’s 1979 piece The Big Wheel. It combines a motorcycle with a three ton flywheel that is set spinning by furious peddling or the revving of the engine. A quiet hum presides over the other installation in the room, a massive beam balance holding a Porsche on one side and a meteorite on the other. Our personal favorite is “Beam Drop,” which is a video that builds up the tension of 60 I-beams being dropped into a pool of wet cement bringing into feature the brutality of the act .
Chris Burden’s Porsche with Meteorite, can be viewed at the New Museum exhibit Extreme Measures.
Chris Burden first became known in 1973 for his performance piece entitled “Shoot,” in which viewers watched as Burden was shot in the arm by a friend, using a 22 rifle. His other works during that time revolved around the idea of personal endangerment as an artistic experience. In the 80’s he moved towards installation pieces, partly because the performance pieces were beginning to take their toll on his body. Burden taught at the University of California Los Angeles from 1978 to 2005, leaving after a dispute caused by a student bringing a gun to school. More recent Chris Burden works include an enormous city of cars called Metropolis II. The piece, which took Burden four years to complete, includes 1,100 toy cars moving at speeds of up to 240 mph. Like many of the Burden works on display at the New Museum, it leaves us wondering at the technological and political limits of the world around us.
The exhibit will be up through January 12, 2014.
Burden questions the function of man.
The Big Wheel
To see more of Burden’s work at the New Museum click here.