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.
Before The Muppet Show made him a household name, Jim Henson made commercials and short films. Time Piece (above) was nominated for an Academy Award in 1966. Look closely and you’ll discover that the protagonist is young Henson himself.
British street artist Banksy has directed an opening sequence of The Simpsons that screened across America last night. Included in the minute-long introduction is a sweatshop scene involving decapitated dolphins and starving unicorns, allegedly inspired by reports that the show outsources the bulk of its animation to a company in South Korea. This is the first time an artist has directed the opening credits and Simpsons Executive Producer Al Jean joked that “This is what you get when you outsource.”