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Chris Burden is one of the most iconic artists in performance art. This documentary follows his artistic journey; a lifetime dedicated to challenging what art is, pushing the line between where art stops and where life begins and vice versa. Then in the late 70s Burden quits performance and begins a journey of re-invention. In a time when we are constantly asking our celebrities not to change. We are asking our artists to be consistent, so that we can stay familiar with their identities.
This documentary is an amazing testimony of that shift. How an artist can change, even at the heist of his career and drastically re-invent himself.
It is such a luxury to be able to observe somebody grow and mature; to see them move away from a testosterone driven aggressive state, into a mature, somewhat contemplative, experience creator. We can watch him managing his anxieties by living away from everything, submersed completely in his work. Burden’s work is challenging. It is provocative. It is shocking. The documentary does a good job in revealing new aspects about Burden. There is tension in the possibility of pain and violence is the focus of his work, more than pain itself. It becomes pretty clear watching all the documentation how there is the possibility or the potential for a disaster, that tension is the fulcrum of the work. This is why his work is not masochistic. Nevertheless, it is still using violence, pain, abuse to generate that tension; perpetuating systems of violence and abuse that are already part of most peoples lives. Thus he indirectly made space for more white male testosterone driven aggressive artists, who did and do not pay as much attention to the tension, but rather focus on the actual pain: abusing of others.
This documentary is a must-see.
“Timothy Marrinan and Richard Dewey's loving doc encapsulates Burden's prolific, provocative career and shows why he was one of modern art's most original, daring voices.” - Rolling Stone
“Has all the humor and panache you could hope for.” - Time Out