Chris Burden pushes his body to the limit through his performance works, which are considered some of the most shocking works in the history of twentieth century art. These works include; “spending five days and nights in the fetal position inside a locker, having a spectator push pins into his body, being ‘crucified’ to a Volkswagen Beetles, being kicked down two flights of stairs, and even having shot himself” (The Art Story). He exclaims that;
I had an intuitive sense that being shot is as American as apple pie. We see people being shot on TV, we read about it in the newspaper. Everybody has wondered what it’s like. So I did it.” – The Art Story
One of the main things that Burden wants to overcome in his work is the sense of understanding of seemingly ‘inartistic’ gestures. His artwork is primarily conceptual artwork, with a background of the Vietnam war. The works that are produced also “challenges viewers to take stock of their own moral compasses and widen their understanding of the ways in which it is possible for art to serve humanity” (The Art Story). All performances, theoretically, can be stopped at any time by the audience, however they do not, which further pushes Burden’s prospect that we have become desensitised to violence, or that we are not willing to help. These performances are filmed, and sculptures are photographed for documentation.