Monday, December 12, 2005

Burden Fails: 220

220, F-Space, October 9, 1971: The Gallery was flooded with 12 inches of water. Three other people and I waded through the water and climbed onto 14 foot ladders, one ladder per person. After everyone was positioned, I dropped a 220 electric line into water. The piece lasted from midnight until dawn, about six hours. There was no audience except for the participants.
The piece was an experiment in what would happen. It was a kind of artificial "men in a life raft" situation. The thing I was attempting to set up was a hyped-up situation with high danger which would keep them awake, confessing, and talking, but it didn't, really. After about two-an-a-half hours everybody got really sleepy. They would kind of lean on their ladders by hooking their arms around, and go to sleep. It was surprising that anyone could sleep, but we all did intermittently. There was a circuit breaker outside the building and my wife came in at 6:00 in the morning and turned it off and opened the door. I think everyone enjoyed it in a weird sort of way. I think they had some of the feelings that I had had, you know? They felt kind of elated, like they had really done something.

- Chris Burden

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1 comment:

Diran Lyons said...

He seems both disappointed and pleased with the results simultaneously. To my view, it is a rather successful project. Not overly technical, but in a simple way pushing the limits of human safety, sustenance, and energy.

Is there an actual critique happening here, or is this a work that merely inserts itself snugly into the early performance/conceptualism boom of the late 60s and early 70s? His attempts at shooting airplanes, in my view, does all of this aforementioned stuff and raises further issues in a much more dynamic fashion...


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