Burden (2016)

Burden (2016)
  • 282
  • Not Rated
  • Genre: Biography
  • Release year: 2016 ()
  • Running time: 88 min
  • Original Title: Burden
  • Voted: 282

A probing portrait of Chris Burden, an artist who took creative expression to the limits and risked his life in the name of art.

1Marina Abramovic\N
2Vito Acconci\N
3Larry Bell\N
  • Undecided about Burden by 7

    This film leaves me wondering exactly how I feel about Chris Burden and his art. It's definitely split into what I would say three parts. The first is Chris' beginnings- how he experimented with art, how he challenged people's views of art, and how his work was viewed. This early version of Chris makes me wary, but I really enjoyed his experimentation with art. While parts made me uncomfortable or anxious, (such as him nearly setting himself on fire, getting shot, letting people decide if they would electrocute him or not, and even nailing himself to a car) I still enjoyed thinking about the concepts behind his work. A lot of his early work left me feeling anxious, but not entirely uncomfortable with what he was exploring. The film does a fantastic job at making Chris seem level headed and cautious with his potentially dangerous stunts. The narrative shows him as someone who was creative, innovative, and mostly just misunderstood by those who didn't like his art. However, once Chris became big, the film portrayed him as almost maniacal. I was especially uncomfortable while watching the film when his extremely dangerous performances were being discussed. Notably, the interview where he held a knife to the woman's neck and threatened to kill her. This left me almost overcome with anxiety. As an artist, Burden definitely took it way too far when he did that. I can understand putting himself through physical or emotional pain for his art, but I will not stand for him putting another person in harm's way. Even if he was acting the entire time, the amount of trauma from that experience that still follows that woman is evident. The film shows him as a crazy man, angry and on a lot of drugs. It captures what I can only assume his mindset was like. However, as it shifts towards the later years of his life, the film makes another turn, making Chris seem like a sensible, level-headed artist that just wants to bring joy with his art. It's a complete 180 from where he was before with his big truck and machine gun. I really, REALLY adore Burden's late work. His art serves the public, completely for free. His art encompasses what I feel like art should do- bring innovation, creativity, and joy all together and make something beautiful. He does this really well with Metropolis (the toy race car piece) and Urban Light (the lamp installation). Watching Metropolis made me smile, and it was something that was just really intriguing to watch happen. I had seen Urban Lights before in pictures, but I would have never thought that the same person who created that also crawled naked on broken glass or had someone shoot them in the arm. The film does an incredible job showing these stages of Burden's life, and how his attitudes towards creation changed throughout his life. Burden was innovative in his work, but his wide range of actions, both good and bad, makes me undecided about how I feel about him as an artist as a whole.

  • Burden or Blessing? by 8

    Chris Burden warped the world to his visions of performance art. While there were times of uncomfortability, there were times of great amusement and awe. Burden was a misunderstood man without a doubt. He had a way of seeing things in ways no one else did, whether that be a good thing or a bad thing. Being new to the performance art world, this documentary could scare you. Burden does things that in today's standard could have him considered to be put in a psych unit. However, I admire his ambition and bravery through it all. Chris Burden as a performance artist is intimidating to say the least, but Chris Burden as a sculpture artist is so warming. He has produced so many marvelous installations for the public to see. Burden changed the art world without even knowing what he was starting. While he did cause a lot of controversy, he still continued his work without censorship. His "pieces don't provide answers, they ask questions," is almost an understatement. Out of ten stars, I would rate this an eight out of ten. Personally, I found it very interesting to get a kind of behind-the-scenes with Chris Burden, because you don't always get to hear an artist describe their work and it means a lot to me to know. While the documentary has a heavy undertone of toxic masculinity, it shows who Chris Burden was, a blessing in disguise.

  • Chris Burden: Genius or Psycho? by 9

    Burden is directed by Richard Dewey and Timothy Marrinan and showcases the life of the artist Chris Burden and his career which ranges from performance, sculpting, and installation. The movie shows his many attempts to reach new boundaries in the art scene. This makes the viewer question if we should call his violent, life-endangering work art and how broad the definition for art is. The documentary is structured chronologically with Chris Burden's life from his experimental college days to his remarkable installations towards his final decade. It has cross-cutting between newly-documented interviews with first hand accounts and older footage of Chris in his youth. The viewpoints the filmmakers were able to obtain for this biography really makes you feel like you knew who he was and you will have trouble not becoming an instant fan. Chris Burden had opposers who didn't think his work should be classified as art but the act of a madman. Purposefully putting yourself at risk in order to convey a message didn't go well with mainstream art audiences in the seventies. Chris however does mention the similarities to notable artists when they were experimenting and attempting techniques never seen before. He argues that art should be about pushing the bar and making a unique impact in the culture. Towards the latter end of his life is where Chris proves his spot in a list of prominent artists. He stated how he admired sculptures in how they require action from the viewer to analyze work from all angles unlike a 2-dimensional painting. He takes this idea to the extreme when looking at his works which include Metropolis II and Medusa's Head. It is quite astonishing the detail and craftsmanship in both of these works and which also don't have a message requiring the gamble of someone's life.

  • Entertaining if not thought provoking by 8

    You don't have to be familiar with; or even like, the artist to find something meaningful in this movie, nor have familiarity with his works to find fascination within the confines of its premise. This movie asks a fundamental question, what is art? Then drops the viewer down a rabbit hole of what can often be a confusing kaleidoscope of ideas. The very act of determining meaning, validity and depth of purpose from these portrayed pieces is in itself a kind of interpretive dance, which alone defines the feelings felt by the artists audiences the world over. It begets controversy, which is itself a catalyst for conversation. Either way, these acts portrayed created a wave of phycological movement that inspired many, even if only to ask such fundamental questions as: "what is art?"

    No matter if you find the acts depicted to be art, or just demented physically realized fever dreams worthy of no more thought than that of acts performed by inhabitants in your local asylum, you should at least be entertained, and at most inspired to think.

  • Burden: Defining Art by 9

    Burden is a documentary that follows Chris Burden, the renowned Performance and Sculptural artist, through the stages of his life and his passion and curiosities of breaking from traditional art forms. It goes into depth about his draw to the dangerous and interest in the body's limits when he was a young man but contrasts that with his peaceful life at his studio in the rolling hills of Topanga Canyon where he spent his last few years creating extravagant sculptures. The documentary presents to us his most dangerous work and some of Burden's comments on the pieces even though most of the time, on television interviews or interviews off the street, they are limited. At one point in the documentary, Burden says that he shouldn't have to explain his art because it explains itself to it's audience, and differently person-to-person. The documentary also goes into the frustration many people had with his works and performance art in general. The debate is still ongoing whether performance art is actually art. Although, the documentary definitely sways you to believing that it is because we see this man who was completely devoted to it all his life. This documentary delved into Burden's personal life as well and how his art reflected it. His wife played a large role in a few of his works when he was happily married but then began having very dark undertones when he cheated on his wife and divorced. I think this aspect of the documentary humanizes Burden in a way that media or news was never capable of. The entire film was very entertaining and it left you wanting to know more or learn more about him. If you are particularly curious about Burden and his work this is a great film that does well in incapsulating his life and influences in his art. You should watch this film if you're interested in performance art, or breaking barriers through art, this film and the life of Burden is very inspiring.

1Chris Burdenarchive_footage
2Andrew Birdcomposer
3Richard Deweydirector
4Timothy Marrinandirector
5Dan Braunproducer
6Josh Braunproducer
7David Kohproducer