The late performance artist Chris Burden was first known for confronting works involving extreme physical peril, but his later installations are almost universally adored. This compelling new film charts his journey.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2016
“It’s a strange path from nailing oneself to a revving Volkswagen to creating a photo-ready oasis of nostalgic, tourist-friendly street lamps. This was the journey of Chris Burden, the sculptor and performance artist whose early, notorious work pushed even the most liberal responses to the unanswerable question ‘what is art?’ Luckily, Burden, a documentary from Timothy Marrinan and Richard Dewey, is a thorough enough guide that even skeptical audiences may find themselves ‘getting it’.” — Jordan Hoffman, The Guardian
“For 45 years Chris Burden maintained a quest to challenge perceived boundaries of modern art in an always awe-inspiring manner. He guaranteed his place in art history beginning in 1971, while still a student in Southern California, with a period of often dangerous, at times stomach churning performances. He had himself shot, locked up in a 2x2x3 locker for five days, electrocuted, crucified on the back of a VW bug.
Burden subsequently reinvented himself as the creator of truly mesmerising installations and sculptures… Timothy Marrinan and Richard Dewey look at Burden’s works and private life with an innovative mix of still-potent videos of his 70s performances, personal videos and audio recordings; friends, fellow students and colleagues; critics’ comments (including that of a young Roger Ebert) and latter day footage at his Topanga Canyon studio… Burden meticulously explores a complex, ever-evolving individual who became one of the most admired artists of his generation.” — Brian Gordon, Tribeca Film Festival
“Threaded through the film are interviews with Burden in repose at his sprawling studio in Topanga Canyon, having long walked away from his self-abusive ‘body art’ in favor of vast, gorgeous installation pieces. Those include his beautiful ‘Ode to Santos Dumont’, an exhibition of a white dirigible which opened at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art one week before his death. And, of course, ‘Urban Light’, the permanent installation of 202 lamps on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. It is the second most photographed LA landmark after the Hollywood sign – and thanks to this engrossing new documentary, passers-by have a chance to understand the crazy, unpredictable life that produced all that light.” — Joe McGovern, Entertainment Weekly