He shoots at 747s, he gets shot at, and he’ll nail himself to a Volkswagen – Who is he?

chris burden shooting at 747 jet airplane

Chris Burden shooting at a 747 jet airplane at LAX Airport

One thing I’ve always admired about the 1970s is you could pretty much get away with anything. You could jump out of an airliner at 10,000 feet with $200,000 in stolen cash and get away with it. You could do any type of artwork and no one was going to bother you about it. Let alone send you to jail. Today’s video playlist is about an artist that got away with such things, mostly in the 1970s.

For all his shock value, Chris Burden is a really intelligent, hard working, amazing artist. And I biasly like Chris Burden a lot, probably because of the way I was introduced to his artwork. I went to UC Irvine as an engineering student (which I loathed every second of it). I started art classes towards the end of my stay at Irvine, where I soon began to realize how much I loved studying art.

One day my art professor went over some of Burden’s work. And I was completely shocked. Not so much at his content, but at the fact that someone that was borderline crazy and famous went to UC Irvine. Because the school isn’t really known for anything that exciting. And at that moment, I finally received my first dose of school pride.

chris burden getting shot

Burden getting shot with a .22 Rifle

Chris Burden is rad. When you start reading up on what and why he produces and performs the art he does – you feel lucky to be living at the same period of time as him. And when you find out he went to the same school as you, you finally have something unique and cool to be associated with.

UC Irvine is usually associated with fertility scandals, stolen cadavers, exploding chemistry labs, crooked CEOs, hate crimes and a billion kids desperately trying to get into medical school who rarely do. Because of Chris Burden, we finally had a success story. Of course he attended UC Irvine years ago. But still, he is someone to be proud of.

chris burden after getting shot

After Getting Shot: Ow That Hurt

The one defining thing that I like about him is that he doesn’t stick to one medium. He started out mostly as a performance artist, but he also does sculpture, builds all kinds of crazy contraptions, collects police uniforms and old street lights. He’s always trying something else. The main thing I take away from Chris is: he shows us that it’s not hard to be different.

chris burden nailed to vw bug

VW should run this as an ad: Our Fans Sacrifice

Ok. So this image above: Here Chris is nailed to a VW Bug, similar to how Jesus was nailed to the cross. I think (btw I’m not doing any fact checking because I have to get my ass back to work) what happened here is the VW bug went in and out of the garage all day while he was nailed to it. When I heard about this stunt, I laughed. I’m not sure why. To me it symbolizes how painful, boring and repetitive going to Catholic church was.

chris burden crawling on broken glass

And here he is crawling almost naked on broken glass.

This one: He is crawling, or slithering rather, across ground covered in broken glass. I really don’t what to say or think about it. I guess it must of hurt.

chris burden in the middle of La Cienega Blvd.

Lying down in the middle of La Cienega Blvd.

Ok this one is nuts. I couldn’t find the photo that I wanted to post up. Apparently he lied down in the middle of La Cienega Blvd. – on the center divider with traffic buzzing by him. Oh yeah, AND he was inside a body bag. That’s fucking nuts. Some jocks repeated the same thing after watching the movie The Program about 18 years ago. One of them is no longer with us.

chris burden drowning sink

Holding his breath under water in a sink.

I’m pretty sure what he was trying to do here was just submerge his head in water for as long as he could hold his breath, pop out to get some air, and repeat the process….over and over again.

hanging naked gym

Hanging upside down and naked in a school gym.

Just hanging with Mr. Burden. Yeaaaaah. In the school gym. Yeah he’s naked. And upside down.

chris burden 100 mile per gallon B car

Looking for that 100mpg car? Chris built one in 2 months back in 1977.

This is where he was like, “Oh you think I just do art for shock value. Well fuck you then”. He built a 100 mile per gallon car in two months back in 1977. Where’s Detroit on that one huh? I heard you monkeys are still working around the clock.

chris burden infinite staircase

Chris' Infinite Staircase

I’ll give anyone $25 to climb this successfully from beginning to finish. But you have to constantly be pointing the same direction. No cheating.

Room expansion device. A great tool for growing families.

Room expansion device. A great tool for growing families.

What’s going on here is as you enter the room, the device pushes the wall apart a tiny amount. So as more and more visitors come into the gallery, the room is constantly expanding.

Medusa's Head

Medusa's Head. Model train tracks wrapping and orbiting an asteroid.

I just like this one. It’s like a miniature earth with train tracks all over it.

chris burden tower of power

The Tower of Power: $1 Million in gold given to him by the museum.

Ok it’s been 10 years since I heard this story and I might have it wrong. I heard he was commissioned to do an installation in a museum in England. They would pay all the expenses and let him keep the materials when he was done with his installation. So what did he do: He asked for 1 Million dollars in gold bars (probably worth 4 times as much now), stacked them in a tower and called it “The Tower of Power”. Hehehehe….


Go do something different and interesting. Stop wasting your life doing boring shit all the time. Oh yeah, and I recommend watching the video playlist we made of Chris – click here.

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3 Responses to He shoots at 747s, he gets shot at, and he’ll nail himself to a Volkswagen – Who is he?

  1. rob says:

    this is something only white people would like they think almost anything is art and are willing to pay millions for it hahahahahah

  2. Breanna Monet says:

    I think Chris Burden is bloody cool. He did what he wanted and made a big deal out of it. He seemed to enjoy shock value. My mum was like that. She was insane. She used to answer the door naked just to piss her parents off. If I did that now I think she would legitimately beat me with a mallet. I have decided to complete my spiritual art assessment for Visual Art on Chris Burden. Thanks for the thought provoking tid bits of info! :)

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