Chris Burden, Trans-Fixed, April 23, 1974 at Speedway Avenue in Venice, California.

Pioneering performance artist Chris Burden passed away on sunday May 10th aged 69. While still an art student, Burden began doing controversial performances, using his body as a tool for artistic expression, later becoming a professor at the University of California and directing his artistic practice towards sculpture. Below a few of his early and most impacting performances.



Chris Burden, Shoot, November 19, 1971 F Space, Santa Ana, California. “At 7:45 p.m. I was shot in the left arm by a friend. The bullet was a copper jacket 22 long rifle. My friend was standing about fifteen feet from me.”



Left: Chris Burden, Locker Piece, April 26-30, 1971, Irvine, California.
“I was locked in locker No. 5 for five consecutive days and did not leave the locker during this time. The locker measurements were two feet high, two feet wide, three feet deep. I stopped eating several days prior to entry, thereby eliminating the problem of solid waste. The locker directly above me contained five gallons of bottled water; the locker below me contained an empty five-gallon bottle.”

Right: Chris Burden, Icarus, April 13, 1973 823 Oceanfront Walk, Venice, California. “At 6:00 p.m. three invited spectators came to my studio. The room is 15 x 25 feet and well lit by natural light. Wearing no clothes, I entered the space from a small room at back. Two assistants lifted one end of a six-foot sheet of plate glass onto each of my shoulders. The sheets sloped on to the floor at right angles from my body. The assistants poured gasoline down the sheets of glass. Stepping back they threw matches and ignited the gasoline. After a few seconds, I jumped up sending the glass crashing to the floor.”


Left: Chris Burden, You’ll Never See My Face in Kansas City, November 6, 1971 Morgan Gallery, Kansas City, Missouri. “For three hours I sat without moving behind a panel which concealed my neck and head. No one could see behind the panel; a piece of board sealed the underside of the space. In conjunction with the performance, I wore a ski mask at all times during my stay in Kansas City from November 5-7, 1971.”

Right: Chris Burden, TV Hijack, Channel 3 Cablevision, Irvine, California
February 9, 1972


Chris Burden, Match Piece, 1972. All photos: R. Boss. Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills, California. “Two-thirds of the gallery floor was covered with white paper. A closed circuit television system was installed in the room. The monitor was placed so that the audience could watch the piece or see it in the monitor, but could not do both at once. I sat on the floor at the opposite end of the room. Two miniature TVs were placed so that I could view them while I made match rockets and shot them at a nude woman lying on the floor about fifteen feet from me. The rockets were made by wrapping the match head with foil and igniting it with another match. Range and accuracy were impossible to control. Some of the rockets landed on her body leaving small burns, others landed in the audience. The piece began before the audience arrived and ended when everyone had left, lasting about three hours.”

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