With exponential population growth and our dwindling resources being problems we have no idea how to solve, what’s the future of big cities such as Los Angeles, New York, and Shanghai? That’s the question Metropolis II seems to ask us due to its hyper-efficient use of space. But if you asked Chris Burden, the provocateur and performance artist who got famously shot for art, he was more interested in “[t]he noise, the continuous flow of the trains, and the speeding toy cars . . . the stress of living in a dynamic, active, and bustling 21st Century city” than in making a scale-model of something.
Metropolis II is currently an ongoing featured exhibition at The Los Angeles County Museum of Art. This frenetic and loud sculpture, composed of steel beams which create a chaotic yet highly thoughtful city grid, holds 1,100 toy cars that traverse the city at 240 scale miles per hour, weaving in and out of residential and office buildings, in a complex map of eighteen roadways, including one six-lane highway. In this film Burden explains his motivation behind the work before it first premiered at LACMA in 2011.
Burden’s importance in LA art culture is epitomized in his piece, Urban Light, which sits at the entrance of LACMA. It’s a sculpture in the style of a Classical Greek temple while being composed of over two-hundred restored, antique cast-iron street lamps from Los Angeles.
Chris Burden died this past May at the age of 69 in Topanga Canyon, California.
By: David Plick