installation art performance by chris burden

Despite the playfulness of his current Small Skyscraper architecture/art installation, make no mistake: it's a burden to be Chris Burden. 

He's been shot in the arm, nailed to a VW beetle, electrocuted and crucified. He's even taken out prime time ads in Los Angles and New York. He's done it all throughout the 70s and 80s in the name of performance art.

chris burden lacma streetlights

More recently, Burden has focused on sculptural installations. His Urban Light  installation (pictured above) features 202 found street lights, and is a permanent fixture (pun definitely intended) at LACMA (DIY tip: you can shop Euro Style Lighting's selection of post lights if you'd like to build your own Urban Light replica).

However, it's Burden's current work, Small Skyscraper (pictured at the top of this post and below), that finally compelled me to write about the artist. 

art installation old town pasadena

On view at Pasadena's One Colorado, Small Skyscraper is a playful adaption to a Los Angeles County building code loophole (since closed) that allows buildings to be built up to 400 sq. ft. and 35 feet high without permits. This fun, if a bit impractical, four story piece actually combines for an impressive 1600 sq. ft. of floor space. Small Skyscraper was inspired by a loophole Burden first discovered in 1991 when building his studio on rugged terrain in an unincorporated section of Los Angeles County. The installation itself may be up to code; his documentation of it below, however, is probably less than sufficient for the permit process:

chris burden artist sketches

Work like Burden's is hard to commodify, and yet in an age when museum attendees are asked to exit through the gift shop, I feel like I should leave you with something to purchase. So in that spirit, the following are a few floor lamps that, unlike Small Skyscraper, are nearly certain to conform to building codes for the foreseeable future.

black modern floor lamps

Possini Euro Three Tier Wood Slat Frosted Glass Floor Lamp (left)Rattan Rectangular Column 40" High Floor Lamp (right)

See Small Skyscraper between now and November 11, 2012, at One Colorado in Pasadena. The exhibition is presented by the Armory Center for the Arts.

Images: Architect's Newspaper, Telegraph, Grupa O.K.