Movies, Documentary
  • 5 out of 5 stars
1 Love It
Save it

A notorious performance artist who earned comparisons to Evel Knievel gets the shocking documentary he deserves.

Immortalized by David Bowie’s 1977 art-rock classic “Joe the Lion” (“Nail me to my car / and I’ll tell you who you are”), 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; Burden also crammed himself into a school locker for five days in 1971 for his master’s thesis. The pieces only get 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, etc. That’s the conundrum of chronicling Burden’s work. Very often, you simply had to be there.

Burden takes the raw early-’70s video of these events—along with the artist’s banal TV commercials (which he paid to get on the air in California) and later footage of his dangerous sculptural installations—and shapes it into an epic, often funny testament to creative fearlessness. (Poseurs, here’s where the bar is set.) Burden is interviewed at home months before his 2015 death.

Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf

By: Joshua Rothkopf


Release details

Rated: N/R
Release date: Friday May 5 2017
Duration: 88 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Richard Dewey, Timothy Marrinan
1 person listening