- Frazer Ward
(b Boston, MA, April 11, 1946; d Topanga Canyon, CA, May 10, 2015).
American performance and installation artist. Burden received a BA from Pomona College, Claremont, CA, and an MFA from the University of California, Irvine, in 1971. Burden made Minimalist sculptures, then viewer-activated sculptural works, before abandoning object-based work in favour of performance for his MFA thesis exhibition, Five Day Locker Piece (26–30 April 1971), when he was locked for five days in a conventional locker, 600 mm high, 600 mm wide, 600 mm deep (the locker above contained five gallons of water, the locker below an empty five-gallon bottle). Burden’s performances, from the 1970s into the early 1980s, frequently involved situations that were apparently dangerous to himself, notoriously so in Shoot (19 Nov 1971; Santa Ana, CA, F Space; see also Body art), in which he arranged to be shot in the left arm by a friend using a .22 gauge rifle from a distance of about 4.5 m—a work that took place in the context of the Vietnam War and tested its invited audience’s relationship to violence and its representation. Other performances tested audience reactions by more passive means, as in ...