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Chris Burden «Shoot» | Shoot, F Space, Santa Ana, California (USA)
Chris Burden, «Shoot», 1971
Shoot, F Space, Santa Ana, California (USA) | ©

 Chris Burden

«In this instant I was a sculpture.» Chris Burden means the moment his arm was pierced by a bullet from a (copper jacket) 22 long rifle. Actually, when a friend pulled the trigger on November 19, 1971 at a distance of 13 feet, the intent was only to graze the artist's arm.
«Shoot» was considered one of the most spectacular performances of the seventies, provoking journalists to ask, «Will he survive 30?» Such remarks turned Burden into a living myth but they also delineated the controversy that has always attended his work. The controversy surrounding «Shoot» was fuelled by the fantasies and fears triggered by shooting and gunshot wounds. Films like «Full Metal Jacket» or «Bullets over Broadway» indicate an enduring interest in the folkloric tradition of westerns, war and gangster movies. With the escalation of the Vietnam War, the subject matter penetrated the minds of the American public no longer as fiction but as fact in the shape of body bags, invalids and veterans from Vietnam. This exerted a significant influence on the daring of Burden's experimental piece.

(Johannes Lothar Schröder, Science, Heat and Time, in: Chris Burden, Beyond the Limits, ed. by Peter Noever, MAK, Ostfildern: Cantz 1996, p. 192 - 209, p. 193)