Art In America

Chris Burden

at New Museum,
235 Bowery

 

There's real gold in this retrospective, and not just in a stairwell installation by the onetime California phenom but also in the videos documenting his classic mid-'70s performances-works once mind-blowing and now historically revered for their perfect blend of conceptualism and creepiness. To see the artist shot, crucified on a Volkswagen, crawling naked across broken glass-all by his own choice-is to be reminded of a time when art seemed truly daring, semi-clandestine and almost criminal in its defiance of social norms. Elsewhere are more recent installations suggesting a world at war with itself: dangling models of all the submarines in the U.S. fleet, a row of deceptively oversize police uniforms that assume their true dimensions as one approaches, even a close-up video of Burden, in swim goggles, doing a dead-on imitation of a French xenophobe.

 

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