Chris Burden on the Telly


Chris Burden’s the artist who got a friend to shoot him in the arm, who crucified himself to a Volkswagon and who even inspired the lyrics to a David Bowie song – Joe the Lion.  (He was also the subject of a major retrospective at the New Museum in New York which closed last week).  These infamous performances were conducted in the 1970s, at a time when the artist was also becoming interested in television, or, more specifically, with “the omnipotent stranglehold of the airwaves that broadcast television held.”  Accordingly the artist purchased slots of air time and created a number of commercials that were screened late at night.  In them, the artist presents clips of previous performances, recounts a summary of his yearly earnings and asserts that he’s an artist of the same calibre as Michelangelo and Rembrandt.  While the ads lack the gleeful perversity of the late night programming generated by Paul McCarthy and Mike Kelly a decade later (see: Family Tyranny / Cultural Soup 1987), Burden’s subversive programming interventions have their own dry style that blur the lines between entertainment and contemporary, conceptual art.

Chris Burden on the Telly

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