Art Market

Chris Burden’s estate sued an Indonesian theme park for copyright infringement.

Benjamin Sutton
Jun 16, 2020 4:30PM, via ARTnews

Chris Burden, Urban Light (2008), on March 21, 2020. Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images.

The estate of late artist Chris Burden is suing a theme park in Indonesia for copyright infringement. In a lawsuit filed on June 4th, Burden’s estate accused the owner and operator of Rabbit Town, a tourist attraction in the city of Bandung, of copying one of Burden’s most famous works, Urban Light (2008), which features 202 restored street lamps permanently installed in a grid pattern in the plaza in front of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). One of the most photogenic of Rabbit Town’s many Instagram-friendly attractions is a grid of street lamps dubbed “Love Light.” Burden’s estate is calling for the installation to be removed, Rabbit Town to issue an apology, and for compensation “for both material and immaterial losses” to Burden’s estate, according to a press release.

In a statement, the Burden estate’s executive director Yayoi Shionoiri said:

We know the amount of artistic creativity, time, energy, and expense spent to create Urban Light. Rabbit Town has never asked for permission to use the copyright of Chris Burden, and his rights as an artist need to be protected.

Rabbit Town has faced accusations of being replete with ripoffs since its opening in 2018. Its other attractions include installations and sculptures strongly evocative of the work of Yayoi Kusama, and a space with hanging lights in the shape of ice cream cones that is very similar to an installation at the Museum of Ice Cream.

Urban Light has become an iconic Los Angeles attraction since it was installed outside LACMA in 2008, and is emblematic of the large-scale, technically complex installations that were a hallmark of the later decades of Burden’s career; another, Metropolis II from 2010, features about 100,000 cars whirring around a scale model of a city and is on long-term view inside the museum. His earlier work included grueling and dangerous performance art pieces for which he was shot, nailed to the hood of a car, and crawled across broken glass, among other feats. Burden died in 2015 at age 69.

Benjamin Sutton
Get the Artsy app
Download on the App StoreGet it on Google Play
Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019