Chris Burden first gained international attention in the 1970s as an influential and controversial figure in the West Coast body art, performance and conceptual art movements. Investigating the sociological dynamic of risk and physical vulnerability, he initially used his own body as material in provocative, sometimes shocking acts, aggressively confronting the artist/audience relationship and the art-making process.
Burden?s performance works were one part of a boundless career that also spanned sculpture, installation, public art and engineering feats—eluding classification and resisting institutional conventions. Though often imposing in its scale or proximity to danger, his art was elegant in its execution. Whatever form he worked in, and wherever Burden's work was experienced, his careful attention to material and context produced a striking effect.
Direct public engagement was central to Burden's interests. Like many artists in the 1970s, Burden seized on video as a tool to explore alternative means of distribution and exhibition. Notable examples are his short interventionist pieces for broadcast television, ten- or thirty-second network spots that he purchased to air his own "anti-commercials," one of which featured only his name, the cursive-lettered title "Through the Night Softly," and a glimpse of Burden, nearly nude, hands bound, rolling through a field of shattered glass.
These brilliant conceptual ads bluntly dropped Burden's expressions of human susceptibility, societal taboos, and American aggression into a decidedly non-art arena, where they were shorn of any didactic interpretations that might mute their unexpected poetic resonance.
EAI will honor Burden with a rotating program of video works, which will screen four times during the course of the day.
Please click here for the full title and screening schedule:
Chris Burden was born in 1946. He received a B.A. from Pomona College, Claremont, California, and an M.F.A. from the University of California, Irvine. The first New York survey of his work, "Chris Burden: Extreme Measures," opened in the autumn of 2013 at the New Museum for Contemporary Art, New York. A major retrospective of his work, "Chris Burden: A Twenty Year Survey," was organized in 1988 by the Newport Harbor Art Museum, California. He performed and exhibited his work internationally, at institutions including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); MAK-Austrian Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; de Appel, Amsterdam; Tate, London; The 48th Venice Biennale, Venice; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Conceptual Art, San Francisco; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the 1992 Biennial Exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Gagosian Gallery, and Ronald Feldman Fine Arts. He was the recipient of numerous awards, including grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and taught for many years at the University of California, Los Angeles. Burden lived in Topanga, California, until his death in 2015.
Founded in 1971, Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI) is a nonprofit arts organization that fosters the creation, exhibition, distribution, and preservation of moving image art. A New York-based international resource for media art and artists, EAI holds a major collection of over 3,500 new and historical media artworks, from groundbreaking early video by pioneering figures of the 1960s to new digital projects by today's emerging artists. EAI works closely with artists, museums, schools and other venues worldwide to preserve and provide access to this significant archive. EAI services also include viewing access, educational initiatives, extensive online resources, technical facilities, and public programs such as artists' talks, screenings, and multi-media performances. EAI's Online Catalogue is a comprehensive resource on the artists and works in the EAI collection, and features expansive materials on media art?s histories and current practices: www.eai.org
EAI's Public Programs are supported in part by the New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council. EAI also receives program support from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Special thanks to the Willoughby Sharp Archive.