Sunday, February 5, 2012

Chris Burden's Metropolis at LACMA

You may know Chris Burden's 1970s era body art (like Shoot) from the Art since 1945 class.  He has long ceased performing the physically challenging (and at times damaging) actions for which he is best known.  Recent work often seems to realize children's fantasies--for instance, a skyscraper constructed from erector sets...

Recently, Metropolis came on view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  "The miniature city in motion consists of 1,100 Hot Wheels-sized cars, 25 large buildings, 18 lanes of traffic, 13 trains and one human operator." 

Here is a video...

I love this profile of Burden by New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl.

1 comment:

  1. One of my favorite tv shows was BBC America’s “James May’s Toy Stories”. The UK “Top Gear” host took toys from his childhood and created large scale projects in a 6 part series in 2009. He made a house out of Lego, a modeling clay garden was entered into the Chelsea Flower Show, a bridge across a canal in Liverpool was made of erector set pieces, a 10 mile long strip of toy train tracks was done along a disused railway line, a life-size Spitfire WWII fighter plane was made out of plastic like a model airplane, and a mechanized toy car track recreated the 3 mile Brooklands racetrack.

    The Brooklands project parallels Chris Burden’s “Metropolis”. Brooklands was a famous racetrack that was closed in 1939. Parts of it are still there, but to recreate it they had to place track along the lawns of homes and through commercial buildings. The Brooklands project required 400 community volunteers. The whole tv series plays upon childhood nostalgia and comments on modern tastes with an “innocence lost” attitude. James May had two goals: get groups of people to work together on his projects and to get people to think about these toys and places that have been cast aside. It is a good example of how blurry the line between art and entertainment is. It sounds like a project an artist would love to attempt with its engineering challenges, community participation, social commentary, and creating new local memory. Some of these pieces were preserved and are on permanent public display.

    Here is the beginning of the Brooklands episode: