Monday, 11 May 2015

Chris Burden, 1946 - 2015

Chris Burden, Trans-Fixed, 1974
Chris Burden died 10 May 2015.
Joe the lion, went to the bar
A couple of drinks on the house
An' he said, "Tell you who you are
If you nail me to my car"
Bowie's song alludes to Chris Burden's 1974 Body Art event, Trans-Fixed:
TRANS-FIXED, Venice, California, April 23, 1974. Inside a small garage on Speedway Avenue, I stood on the rear bumper of a Volkswagen. I lay on my back over the rear section of the car, stretching my arms onto the roof. Nails were driven through the palms into the roof of my car. The garage door was opened and the car was pushed halfway out into Speedway. Screaming for me, the engine was run at full speed for two minutes. After two minutes the engine was turned off, and the car pushed back into the garage. The door was closed.
Other performances included: 
Shoot (1971) in which he was shot in the arm by a friend with a .22 rifle. Watch a video of the event.
Chris Burden, Shoot, 1971
Through the Night Softly (1973) in which he crawled through a 50-foot-long pile of broken glass in his underwear, with his hands tied behind his back: watch the video. (This was featured as one of Burden's TV Commercials.)
Chris Burden, Through the Night Softly, 1973
By the end of the 1970s, after 54 performance events, Burden abandoned performance art and turned to sculpture. Works include:
All the Submarines of the United States of America (1987)
Chris Burden, All the Submarines of the United States of America, 1987
 The Other Vietnam Memorial (1991) which lists the names of 3 million Vietnamese killed during the Vietnam War.
Chris Burden, The Other Vietnam Memorial, 1991
Urban Light (2008) comprising 202 vintage streetlights installed in the plaza at the LA County Museum of  Art.
Chris Burden, Urban Light, 2008

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Theaster Gates - White Cube

Theaster Gates, Diagonal Bitumen, 2014 (Wood, rubber and tar.)
Theaster Gates: Freedom of Assembly is at White Cube (Bermondsey) until 5 July 2015.
This is inspiring. Theaster Gates' achievements in the rejuvenation and cultural renewal of derelict areas of Chicago through creative projects are extraordinary. (Watch a TED video of Gates talking about the projects.)
These projects are funded by the sale of artworks principally made from materials salvaged from the derelict properties he has acquired. (He is fully alive to the paradox of the gallery objects functioning as high end commodities for the moneyed classes and funding the developement of deprived urban communities.)
In an interview with Tim Adams, Gates insists, "Biography and geography matter...". So, here is the potted biography: Gates was born in 1973 in the West Side of Chicago to a schoolteacher mother and a father who worked as a roofer - his father bequeathed him his 'tar kettle' and collaborated on the tar 'paintings'; he was the youngest of 9 children and the only boy. He has degrees in Urban Planning and Ceramics (his creative practice is rooted in pottery) and began a career in 'city hall': “I realised it was actually developers who changed cities. It bugged me that the people with the most agency, the most entrepreneurial spirit, were also the people with the least consciousness about the needs of a place. I went after having more agency…”. And so, following the banking crash in 2008 he bought a bungalow in Chicago's South Side turned it into an 'archive'  and 'soul food kitchen' and opened it up to the neighbourhood. So began the Dorchester Projects and the acquisition of many more buildings, including a derelict bank and the contents of closed down bookshops, record stores and hardware stores.
On 23 January 2015 Gates was awarded the £40,000 Artes Mundi prize in Cardiff  - and elected to share the money with the other nominees: "Let's split this motherfucker!"
On 29th June 2015 details will be announced of his first UK public project to take place in Bristol.
Read the interview with Tim Adams; read an interview with Ben Eastham: Theaster Gates on How to Be “The Most Badass Artist in the World”; read a review of the White Cube show by Adrian Searle; watch a TED video of Gates talking about his work.
Theaster Gates, Ground Rules (Free Throw Possibility), 2014 (Wood flooring.)
Theaster Gates, Tiki Teak, 2014 (Wood and roofing paper.)
Theaster Gates, Clearing, 2014 (Wood, rubber and tar.)
Theaster Gates, Gees Removed, 2014 (Wood, roofing substrate and tar.)
Theaster Gates, installation view, White Cube (left: Atlas, 2015; right: Shrug, 2015)
Theaster Gates, installation view, White Cube (Tarred Vessel in foreground).
Contents of hardware store bought by Theaster Gates
Derelict bank bought by Theaster Gates and transformed into 'Stony Island Arts Bank'