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Chris Burden, Italy

Daniela Salvioni speaks with artist Chris Burden about everything from the practical matter of how he un-crucified himself from the top of a VW Beetle to the near-yogic benefits of lounging contemplatively on an Oriental rug in the garden gazebo of his 2010 exhibition The Heart: Open or Closed, at Gagosian Gallery's Rome location. His first exhibition in Rome in more than 30 years, The Heart: Open or Closed is composed of three distinct, interrelated works, through which the artist continues to express his interest in built structures and the role they play in reflecting cultures and the aesthetic and metaphorical possibilities of architectural extravagance. The disarmingly picture-perfect installation, though disrupted with the angry rant of a video presentation, may be his most tender and humanistic to date, pointing to the beauty in the heart of two different cultures and the hatred that can divide them. During the course of his 30-year career, Burden has amassed a long list of solo exhibitions in galleries and museums worldwide. He first came to the attention of the art world in the 1970s with Shoot, in which he allowed an assistant to shoot him a loaded rifle, wounding the artist in his arm. Since the late 1970s, his work has moved from performance, and from the often violent and aggresive thrust of such early pieces as TV Hijack and Trans-Fixed, to more varied multi-media experiments, involving installation and new technologies. His permanent outdoor installation at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), entitled Urban Light, was unveiled in 2008. What My Dad Gave Me, a 65-foot skyscraper made entirely of Erector Set parts, was installed at Rockefeller Center in New York City. The Heart: Open or Closed ran at Rome's Gagosian Gallery from February 15 through March 27, 2010.


Our Correspondents: Italy


Curator and art critic Daniela Salvioni reports from assorted locales across Italy to bring us interviews with contemporary art's most revered as well as emerging and overlooked artists. The co-editor, with Diana Burgess Fuller, of Art/Women/California, 1950-2000, this American-born resident and fluent Italian speaker, has curated exhibits for such artists as Guy Overfelt and Jennifer Locke, and has interviewed such artists as Jeff Koons and Allan McCollum. Our thanks to Star FK Radium, from Washington, D.C., for the theme music.