Immortalised in David Bowie’s 1977 track ‘Joe the Lion’ (which features the lines ‘Nail me to my car/and I’ll tell you who you are’), the artist Chris Burden crashed the mainstream like few performance artists do. Yes, he actually nailed himself to his Volkswagen Beetle like a modern-day mobile Christ in 1974. He also crammed himself into a school locker for five days in 1971 as his Master’s thesis.
The work only gets more daring from there: slithering on broken glass in his underwear, getting shot in the arm by a rifle from only a few feet away – you get the picture. That’s the conundrum of chronicling Burden’s work. Very often, you simply had to be there. This doc takes the raw early ’70s footage of these events and later footage of his dangerous sculptural installations then shapes it into an epic, often funny testament to creative fearlessness. Burden is also interviewed at home months before his death in 2015.