An Old Postcard From Chris Burden

Today’s post has nothing to do with anything scrapped or salvaged. I just had to share my brief encounter with world-renowned artist, Chris Burden who had an Art Reception for his sculpture “Small (Quasi-Legal) Skyscraper” in my hometown (see bottom of post for more on this thought provoking instillation).

Popular for his controversial performance art, such as “Trans-fixed” (for which he had someone nail both of his hands to a VW beetle for two minutes back in 1974), Mr. Burden has also had art exhibits in numerous museums and galleries.

The biggest reward of attending this reception was not only that my hubs and I got to meet him, we also got him to sign a note of encouragement to my sister, who is an Art History professor currently getting her doctorate in the UK. Chris Burden is one of the artists she focuses on every semester in her classes. I know she both loved and hated that I got to attend in her absence, but this made her almost as happy as meeting him herself. Almost…

And just to bring it home, I had Mr. Burden sign an old Gardner-Thompson Co. postcard my guy found at an estate sale awhile ago. It seemed fitting (top of the postcard says “This Card Bears Good Wishes From California”. Why, yes, it does!).

And I guess something was salvaged after all.

~ Shelby, do not quit!

Below Take From Armory Center For the Arts:

 “A modern-day log cabin”
Small Skyscraper is a sculpture as well as a prototype for a hypothetical dwelling. Described by Burden as “a modern-day log cabin,” Small Skyscraper represents a quasi-legal structure that exploits a loophole Burden discovered in the Los Angeles County building codes. This loophole, since closed, allowed small out buildings, like green houses and sheds, to be built without a permit if they stayed within 400 square feet and under 35 feet high. Small Skyscraper uses these legal size restrictions as a point of departure. The total structure, constructed with a prefabricated interlocking aluminum framework, consists of four rooms stacked one on top of the other, measuring 400 square feet and rising 35 feet in height. Even though Small Skyscraper strictly adheres to the County’s spatial requirements, it continues to push the legal and physical parameters of architectural construction because of added design features, such as a low roof parapet, and because it functions as a hypothetical domestic dwelling.

According to Irene Tsatsos, Chief Curator at the Armory Center for the Arts, “The piece is a beautiful and provocative work of art that embraces and exploits tenets of architecture and design. Nearly ten years after its debut at LACE, Small Skyscraper continues to provoke consideration of the merits, conventions, and limitations of traditional dwelling spaces and serves as reminder of the growing and urgent need for affordable, portable shelter around the world.”


5 thoughts on “An Old Postcard From Chris Burden

  1. Sounds like a cool guy and a cool project. Fun that you got to meet him and pass along the good vibes to your sis.

    This mini skyscraper project (love that sign for the show by the way) reminds me of Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion Houses: (just pulled the following from “The house reflected Fuller’s basic technological principle, his determination to achieve the greatest possible utility at the smallest possible cost in terms of energy and materials by making use of everything that science and technology have to offer. With its self-supporting structure and self-sufficiency, it also reflected another of Fuller’s axioms: “A house should be completely self-sufficient and autonomous, just like a person”.” Not exactly the same of course…but I like when artists dabble in architecture and vice versa.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. agreed! and what great and appropriate words from fuller to use here. i love thought-provoking marriages (such as science and art). thanks for sharing, jocelyn!

    1. thanks, danielle! i think so, too. plus she crapped her pants when she found out. well…almost 😉 thanks for stopping by!

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