Monday, February 10, 2014

Two wild and crazy guys

A comparative selection of diary entries by Chris Burden and Edward Weston —excerpted from Chris Burden's Extreme Measures and Edward Weston's The Daybooks with winners of each round judged by me to have best exhibited the spirit of exploration, wild abandon, and Joie de Vivre

(Burden) November 19, 1971 - At 7:45 pm I was shot in the left arm by a friend. The bullet was a copper jacket .22 long rifle. My friend was standing about fifteen feet from me.

(Weston) Sunday, January, 1924 - Lunch under the pines —tortillas, hot from the ashes of a bonfire, frijoles y carne, and plenty to drink —tequila y cerveza. The Mexicans had with them, naturally, their guns. "Let us shoot, but save a few rounds, we may need them on our return!" said Galvan. He placed a ping-pong ball forty feet away and pierced it the first shot from his pistola. The Mexicans broke beer bottles with much cracking of guns and threw knives with accuracy, but I bested them in jumping.

Round One: Burden                                     

(Burden) October 3, 1971 -  The piece began when I took of my clothes (jeans and a t-shirt) and lay on the floor on my back. A friend hammered a star-shaped stud into my sternum. I then sat in a chair and had all my hair cut off. Finally, I dressed in some FBI clothes I had bought for the piece.

(Weston) December 6, 1925 - Brett and X. and I sat down to the table for dinner together. There was a half keg of beer which we tapped —with unforeseen consequences, for not always from a few glasses of beer does one attain such hilarity. But it was a day forecast for inebriety, Bacchus in the ascendancy, and we honored him well! First X.'s eyes began to roll heavenward, then Brett suddenly turned his beer upon the bread and with a gesture quite as bombastic as a matador tossing his velvet hat, let fly the empty glass over his shoulder. There was no work that afternoon, but singing, dancing, grandiloquent words and nonsense. Brett was a burlesque worth a price of admission: we wept from laughter…

Round Two: Weston                                     

(Burden) January 14, 1972  - I was asked to do a piece on a local television station by Phyllis Lutjeans. After several proposals were censored by the station or by Phyllis, I agreed to an interview situation. I arrived at the station with my own video crew so that I could have my own tape. While the tape was in progress, I request that the show be transmitted live. Since the station was not broadcasting at the time, they complied. In the course of the interview Phyllis asked me to talk about some of the pieces I had thought of doing. I demonstrated a TV hijack. Holding a knife at her throat, I threatened her life if the station stopped live transmission. I told her that I had planned to make her perform obscene acts. At the end of the recording, I asked for the tape of the show. I unwound the reel and destroyed the show by dousing the tape with acetone. The station manager was irate, and I offered him my tape, which included the show and its destruction, but he refused.

(Weston) Monday, October, 1926 -- I smashed my camera to the tune of thirty pesos. Brett thought I had hold — I thought he had. It fell from tripod height to the cement floor of Museo Nacional. I just stood and looked at it….A sitting today — must try to find some half-decent clothes to don. Funny people who think a good photographer, or a good anything, must have money!

Round Three: Burden                                     

(Burden) November 12, 1972  - At 8 p.m. I lay down on La Cienega Boulevard and was covered completely with a canvas tarpaulin. Two fifteen minute flares were placed near me to alert cars. Just before the flares extinguished, a police car arrived. I was arrested and booked for causing the reporting of a false emergency. The trial took place in Beverly Hills. After three days of deliberation, the jury failed to reach a decision, and the judge dismissed the case.

(Weston) June, 1924 - I took Olga to her first bullfight…The fourth bull brought death to a novillero; he had killed the first bull in fine style, received acclaim and the bull's diana. They try so hard, these novilleros, to please, to show their skill and daring, to win their spurs. He met the bull's charge on his knees. He was caught and gored. He lay so quiet in the sand as the bull rushed over him toward the frantic capes which could not save him now. They carried him from the arena —his head stretched back.

Round Four: Burden                                     

(Burden) April 23, 1974 -  Inside a small garage on Speedway Avenue. I stood on the rear bumper of a Volkswagen. I lay on my back over the rear section of the car, stretching my arms onto the roof. Nails were driven through my palms into the roof of the car. The garage door was opened and the car was pushed halfway out into the speedway. Screaming for me, the engine was run at full speed for two minutes. After two minutes, the engine was turned off and the car pushed back into the garage. The door was closed.

(Weston) November 12th, 1925 - I was shaving when A. came, hardly expecting her on such a gloomy, drizzling day. I made excuses, having no desire, no "inspiration" to work. I dragged out my shaving, hinting that the light was poor, that she would shiver in the unheated room: but she took no hints, undressing while I reluctantly prepared my camera….And then appeared to me the most exquisite lines, forms, volumes, —and I accepted, —working easily, rapidly, surely.

Round Five: Weston                                     

(Burden) April 11, 1975 -- My performance consisted of three elements: myself, an institutional wall clock, and a five-by-eight inch sheet of plate glass. The sheet of glass was placed horizontally and leaned against the wall at a forty-five degree angle; the clock was placed to the left of the glass at eye level. When the performance began the clock was running at the correct time. I entered the room and reset the clock to twelve midnight. I crawled into the space between the glass and the wall, and lay on my back. I was prepared to lie in this position indefinitely, until one of the three elements was disturbed or altered. The responsibility for ending the piece rested with the museum staff, but they were unaware of this crucial aspect. The piece ended when Dennis O'Shea placed a container of water inside the space between the wall and the glass. Forty-five hours and ten minutes after the start of the piece, I immediately got up and smashed the face of the clock with a hammer, recording the exact amount of time that had elapsed form beginning to end. 

(Weston) February 3, 1927 - Peter's party was one of the gayest ever. Dressed as a fine lady, evening gown and trimmings, I had a chance to burlesque the ladies, and did. The "bootlegger" failed us, but we did not miss him. Only dawn ended the fun. Peter made great cartoons which covered the walls; they were far more than jokes, he achieved creative expression. One was of E. W. with his camera, another Dr. Frankl, knife in hand, after decapitating a patient. Galka Scheyer had begged my leather breaches, putees, pistol and Texano, so I got in exchange her outfit even down to panties, and a marvelous make-up job to boot. As a ravishing woman I was a success with the women.

Round Six: Weston                                     

(Burden) March 1979 - I was invited to Vancouver for  a week to be a visiting artist by the Emily Carr College of Art and Simon Fraser University. Rather than meet with students to present and discuss my past work in a teaching context, I request that I be provided with a  wheelbarrow, a shovel, and pickax. On the first day of my visit, I immediately began, in a vacant lot that had bee provided for me, to dig a straight ditch about two and a half feet wide and three feet deep. Each following day students could find me digging from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. I did not have a specific length or goal, except that I would be digging during the times of day that I had designated. Occasionally, someone would offer to dig for me, but after trying for a few minutes they would return the job to me.

(Weston) November 14, 1925 - This afternoon billions of diamonds fell from the sky. The sun shone upon a terrific hail storm backed by leaden thunder clouds. Arched high over all, framing the downpour of brilliants were two complete rainbows. We were printing in the little dark-room on the azotea. Hail stones attacked our paper-roof like fire from machine guns: work became impossible from actual confusion of the senses.

Round Seven: Weston                                     

(Burden) March 21, 1979  - For one hour, live on FM radio, I repeatedly asked the listeners to "consider the possibility of sending money directly to me, to Chris Burden, 823 Oceanfront Walk, Venice, California, 90291." Interjected between my continues appeals to send money directly to me at my address, I would explain that I was not selling anything and that I was not part of any charitable or religious organization. I emphasized that I was not asking for two or three big individual contributions, rather, I wanted everyone to send me a little, even as little as a quarter. I tried to emphasize that working together they could make me rich, and that their loss would be invisible, whereas my gain would be substantial. 

(Weston) Monday, November, 1924 - After experiencing the ever-recurrent condition of being "broke", I have sold two prints: "Palma Cuernavaca", and a nude; besides, I have four definite dates for sittings. Such prosperity is overwhelming!…Tomorrow I dine at a luncheon in honor of the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. God knows his name —I don't— but duty calls. In preparation I trimmed the fringe from my trousers and borrowed a hat from Rafael. Now to buy a collar and I shall be ready for the fray.

Round Eight: Burden                                     

(Burden) June 19, 1974 - At twelve noon I was kicked down two flights on concrete stairs in the Mustermesse at the public opening of the Art Fair in Basel, Switzerland. I lay down at the top of the stairs and Charles Hill repeatedly kicked my body, which fell two or three steps at a time.

(Weston) November 26, 1928 - I am having another reactions, from my statement that I could go through life with one woman! Ridiculous thought! Imagine never again having the thrill of courting, —the conquest,— new lips to find, —new bodies to caress. It would be analogous to making my last print, nailing it to the wall forever, seeing it there, until I would despise it or no longer notice it was there. No! — let me stay free!

Round Nine: Weston                                     

(Burden) April 26-30, 1971 - I was locked in a locker for five consecutive days and did not leave the locker during this time. The locker measured two feet high, two feet wide, and three feet deep. I stopped eating several days prior to entry. The locker directly above me contained five gallons of bottled water. The locker immediately below me contained an empty five-gallon bottle.

(Weston) February 18, 1930 - I worked with a newly discovered group of eroded rocks, —some in quite different forms than any I have done before: making twelve negatives from 9:00 to 5:00, with no rest but a ten minute plunge in the ocean, naked, of course, —then  more drying in the hot sun.

Round Ten: Weston                                     


Jin said...

I dunno, man. I think you threw Weston a few rounds for good measure...

Blake Andrews said...

You may be right. It was not a scientific process. But if I did cut EW some slack, it's only because, after all, he's fucking Edward Weston.

Although I guess the same could be said about Burden.

Jin said...

It's what's bound to happen when you compare a performance artist to a photographer!

Actually, all I could think of while I was reading this was - can you imagine taking a class from either of these people!!? Either brilliant or really annoying. Maybe it'd be something like this:

The last one is interesting given what Burden did at that TV station!

Chris said...

Glad it went 10 rounds….