On my last trip out to Los Angeles I finally made it to LACMA (aka the Los Angeles County Museum of Art) one glorious Sunday with my whole family in tow, in order to see CHRIS BURDEN’S fascinating installation called “METROPOLIS II.” This is definitely an installation that at first blush might
seem playful , but BURDEN’S highly intricate vision is meant to portray the intensity of the hustle and bustle life of an urban complex in the 21st Century.
CHRIS BURDEN is a prolific and multi-facted artist long associated with the California contemporary art scene. He is permanently represented up front and central at LACMA by his majestic installation at the entrance to LACMA called “URBAN LIGHT.” This installation, consists of 202 antique cast iron lamps, which originally adorned the streets of Los Angeles, all painted the same soft gray color. According to BURDEN, these lamps are symbolic of a city that is “…civilized and sophisticated…safe after dark and beautiful to behold.”
His obsession with cities and city life today is furthered developed with the elaborate construction of “METROPOLIS II.” FYI, there was a “ METROPOLIS I” created seven years ago, but that installation was not nearly as grand or as complex as the present one, which almost fills a room at the museum and has to be at least 10 feet tall in certain places.
Just imagine 1100 custom-designed toy cars zooming around on 18 “highways” passing by closely packed “buildings” composed of glass, stone tiles, wood and other materials. And there are also trains scooting about on train tracks and a six lane freeway. The buzz of the cars and the trains is intense, which for BURDEN signifies life in a stressful and high powered urban city in the 21st Century.
The installation can be seen at the ground level and from the balcony above. It is truly mesmerizing, and impossible to imagine how he constructed the sculpture with so much detail and precision. I read he had 7 assistants help him develop the structure and that every hour 100,000 cars drive through “METROPOLIS II” !
I would venture to say that BURDEN seeks to get the viewer’s fascination factor keyed up by the precision of his work in order to communicate his message, whether it be while walking through the 202 cast iron lamps maze or following the 1100 cars as they zoom past on the “highways”.
If you are fortunate enough to be able to tool out to Los Angeles in the near future, do not miss this electrifying installation by BURDEN. I assure you that you will be impressed with his imagination and skills, much as I was.
CIAO, CIAO ‘TIL NEXT TIME!