American artist Chris Burden has passed away. When I read about this, I immediately thought of the one performance piece that stood out for me while learning about performance art, and probably for many others who are familiar with his work. Burden's 1971 performance, 'Shoot'.
It's noted as one of the most extreme and notorious performance art pieces of the 70s. And it's right up there with works from this period such as Bas Jan Ader's three-part performance/action, 'In Search of the Miraculous', where Ader set sail in 1975 on a solo voyage across the Atlantic only to disappear, his body never recovered; or Marina Abramovic's six hour feat, 'Rhythm 0' , where the artist invited her audience to treat her body as an object, giving them carte blanche to do whatever they wanted utilising 72 objects, one of which was a gun [check out Abramovic discussing this piece: link]. Then there's Vito Acconci's, 'Seedbed' , where gallery visitor's were met with a blank room, unaware that Acconci was underneath a ledge masturbating while narrating his sexual fantasies about the audience for them to hear.
Burden's 'Shoot' involved getting a friend to shoot him in the arm with a 22 long rifle. The intention was to graze, not penetrate his arm.
Burden says of the act: 'In this instant I was a sculpture'.