Chris Burden began his career in the 1970s as a famously controversial performance artist—celebrated Burden events include having a friend shoot him in the arm with a pistol, and having himself confined in a locker for several days. In Burden’s current show at Gagosian Beverly Hills (10 July-29 August) is an edition of bullets cast in gold and presented, tidily and jewel-like, in a little box: perhaps a clever, self-referential wink at his early work. Recently Burden has become interested in architecture—as have many artists these days. But, true to his iconoclastic nature, he has consistently given buildings a jokily rebellious, ironic twist. Take his most recent series of bridges, for instance, also on view at Gagosian, which are based on the technology and design principles of Mysto Erector toys—it seems as though Burden is literally playing with architecture (below, “Indo-China bridge”, 2002). The bridges are the perfect complement to Burden’s ambitious project “Small skyscraper”, which is currently on view at the non-profit space Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE) (until 27 July), as an off-site part of the MAK Center for Art and Architecture’s exhibition “Trespassing: houses x artists”, for which prominent visual artists were asked to design a domestic dwelling. Burden’s “Skyscraper”, which is displayed on its side (it will eventually be erected vertically in Topanga Canyon), slyly takes advantage of a loophole in the Los Angeles building code, which allows certain structures to be built without a permit if they are less than 400 square-feet in area and under 35 feet tall.
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'What's on: Chris Burden'