photo: KIOKU Keizo

Metropolis

ArtistChris BURDEN
Year2004
Material/ Techniquemixed media
Size/ DurationH217×W496×D333cm
Copyright Notice© Chris BURDEN / Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate
Year of acquisition/ donation2004
DescriptionBorn in Boston, USA in 1946. Died in Topanga in 2015.

Since the beginning of the 1970s, Burden has presented radical performance art. He became widely known for <Shoot> (1971), his performance piece in which he had a friend shoot him in the arm. He is also influential as a conceptual artist, taking up wealth, power and military forces as the subject matter. He has also produced many large-scale three-dimensional works, such as <Medusa’s Head> (1990), in which complicated urban components are tangled into a massive orb that is over 4m in diameter.

"Metropolis" condenses a sense of contemporary cities into the word ‘transportation’ and ‘speed.’ Miniature cars race at hectic speeds along a complicated curving roadway made of plastic, while slow moving monorails circulate throughout the piece. The cars are collected at the bottom and carried back up to the top again, repeating their rounds endlessly. The work represents today’s urban situation in which we can’t turn away from a constant flow. Toy parts and Lego blocks are used to depict the buildings in a city. They look so uniform and expressionless that they seem to encourage the repression of human individuality. In addition, the viewers soon become numb with constant metallic sounds of running cars. The sculpture is the artist’s metaphor for the environment of today’s city.

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