With the screening of Burden, an experimental documentary about Chris Burden by Timothy Marrinan and Richard Dewey, Aksioma continues and upgrades an educational activity we have been investing on along the last five years: the screening of art films with a strong educational and documentary character, presented in Slovenia for the first time, and focused on the foundational processes, art groups, artists and projects that have marked and/or shifted the currents in world art. Burden fits perfectly within this tradition, and Aksioma already reserved the rights to present a long awaited documentary about his life and work in Slovenia for the first time, and with Slovenian subtitles. The film is aimed at a public of art professionals, scholars and students from the art academy, although we expect that Burden’s interdisciplinarity, his early role in the development of the category of the “performative” and his peculiar approach to the media could be able to attract a more diversified audience.
Chris Burden (1946–2015) is one of the greatest icons of post-war performance art – named for instance by Marina Abramović as a key reference for her own art practice. Burden guaranteed his place in art history in the early 1970s with a series of controversial and often dangerous performances. After having himself shot, locked up in a locker for five days, electrocuted, and crucified on the back of a VW bug, he reinvented himself as the creator of truly mesmerizing installations and sculptures. Burden understood his performances as sculptures, whose key “sculpting” material was his own body, which he subjected to various tests and experiments. The body and corporeality in contemporary performance art have never been the same ever since. Burden became an inspiration for many artists of subsequent generations, spanning from Laurie Anderson to David Bowie.
In Burden, Marrinan and Dewey look at the artist’s works and private life with an innovative mix of still-potent videos of his 70s performances, personal videos and audio recordings, interviews with friends, fellows students and colleagues, critics’ comments and latter day footage at his studio, all peppered with his thoughts and musings through the years. Burden represents one of the greatest not-yet-told stories in the history of world art. The film also reveals the backstage of the Los Angeles art scene, which in the early 1970s was somehow distanced and neglected compared to New York or some of Europe’s capitals. Precisely because of this marginality, the West Coast of the United States became the centre of experimental art, which later on shifted the boundaries of self-articulation and self-organisation of art throughout the world. Aksioma’s interest in screening art movies with a peculiar documentary and educational approach dates back to 2012, and has built along the years a loyal audience of people actively engaged in various genres of artistic creation but also students, researchers and the general public.
Directed by: Tim Irwin, Keith Schieron.
Organisation: Aksioma and Kino Šiška.