William Poundstone
William Poundstone on Art and Chaos

William Poundstone’s Los Angeles County Museum on Fire

Chris Burden Meets Regis Philbin

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On Dec. 24, 1974, Chris Burden appeared on Philbin & Company, a Los Angeles morning talk show hosted by Regis Philbin.

PHILBIN: Why did you allow yourself to get shot?

BURDEN: It was a piece of sculpture, and it was the best thing I could think of doing at that time. That’s why I did it.

PHILBIN: [laughs] Chris has got me here. We’re gonna—hang in there Chris, and we’re gonna solve this together. As a piece of sculpture…

BURDEN: Right.

PHILBIN: You allowed someone to shoot you?

BURDEN: Right.

PHILBIN: With a gun?


PHILBIN: And in your mind, that was the sculpture, the result of you being shot.

BURDEN: No, just the moment when I was getting shot was the sculpture, just that instant when the bullet traveled from the gun into my arm. And then after that, it’s all over. That was the sculpture; it was less than a second.

PHILBIN: And it was worth it?

BURDEN: Yeah. It was a good piece.

(Transcript from the Pacific Standard Time book.)

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  1. I’m sorry. This is when we move beyond crazy just to get noticed. Saner people get locked up.

  2. ?A piece of what?
    And we wonder how we got to bacchanals at the MoCa partysite. It will only get worse til someone holds a mirror up to them, and shows this to the disinterested people.

    Dont give people what they want, including the rich, explore what is and uncover truth, let people decide for themselves with real choice instead of having tofu forced down their throats.

    Decadent voyeurism is the disease, this but a symptom.

    art collegia delenda est

  3. In the mid 70s many artistis toyed with the idea that the concept behind the art was more important than the object (sculpture/painting/photo/etc) that was produced. This is why it was called CONCEPTUAL art – the concept mattered. Chris Burden was acting as a sculptor who was also a performance artist. He was performing the art, the art only existed in that moment, and afterwards we’re left with the documentation of the work (the photo) but not the the work itself. In a way this was actually a backlash of artists against the art market. They wanted to make art that couldn’t be bought or sold or made into a commodity. By acting out the art it couldn’t be placed on a pedestal in some wealthy persons atrium.

    Chris Burden did take this a bit far (as did others like Bas Jan Ader and Marina Abramovic). These artists often used their bodies as the medium in works. In a different piece Burden had himself “crucified” over the back of a VW beetle. The notion of crucifixion is meant to be inflammatory, is meant to spike dialogue, but the act of putting his body through so much pain sort of became a trade mark for him. There was a sense of endurance and suffering for the cost of his creations. Again, the concept mattered more than the object.

    If you’d like to see a physical piece of art rather than an art “happening”, Chris Burden is also the sculptor who created the light installation in front of LACMA. It’s a more object based piece so maybe it’s not as difficult to get lost in the concept behind it.

  4. But the problem is, the concept Doesnt matter. It is but a departure point, a motif, that art then develops from in contact with they real world of mind body and soul, things weak minded concept artistes deny even exist. So it is all their clever lil concepts, and nothing else. because they are minigods. And so, trapped in their own egos.

    We know all this. We just dont care. We got real lives, not video ones.

    art collegia delenda est
    Fine art academies must be destroyed

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