Chris Burden (1946-2015)
The performances of Chris Burden are intentionally shocking and disturbing and have the capacity to affect "viewers" encountering them through their documentation and retelling. Burden creates an immediately real experience for his audience members; their life-threatening quality transforms their experience from an a viewer into that of participant and witness. I think this connects to the confusion of illusion and reality in the "fake hold-up" scenario that Baudrillard describes. In the same way "Of the same order as the impossibility of rediscovering an absolute level of the real, is the impossibility of staging an illusion. Illusion is no longer possible, because the real is no longer possible” (Baudrillard, 38).
Many of Burden's pieces draw attention to real-world stuff such as person-to-person contracts and the brutality of war. Although his performances are meant to be ephemeral, their residue such as "relics" (nails, jackets) and documentation (photography and sound recording) are important factors in historicizing his work. Burden also raises the question of authorship-- why isn't the shooter in "Shoot Piece" (link contains footage Burden being shot in performance) or any other helper referenced besides him? Legal reasons or interest in anonymity? In my research I was surprised to learn how corporate this guy is—I had encountered him a number of times in reading but only with works like “Shoot Piece”. I didn’t know that he was the first artist to be represented at Gagosian Gallery and that he completely changed his work to large-scale sculptures mid-career (which evoke the “real” in a different, more subdued kind of way). It's challenging for me to articulate an opinion on Burden's work...I feel like it's bothersome but in a very boring way. I think I like the work Marina and Ulay much more because of the emotion and passion connected to them, whereas Burden is entirely monotone and robot-like about his pursuits.
"Relation in Time" (1977)