August 1, 2012 Leave a comment
One of the central reasons I chose to go to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art during my brief stay in Los Angeles was due to Chris Burden’s exhibit, “Metropolis II.”
Steel beams form an eclectic grid interwoven with an elaborate system of 18 roadways, including one 6 lane freeway, and HO scale train tracks. Miniature cars speed through the city at 240 scale miles per hour; every hour, the equivalent of approximately 100,000 cars circulate through the dense network of buildings. According to Burden, “The noise, the continuous flow of the trains, and the speeding toy cars, produces in the viewer the stress of living in a dynamic, active and bustling 21st Century city.”
It is that, but it’s also a fantasy piece, like the old 1950s sci-fi imaginings of the future. It’s a 21st-century world where all the stressful hustle and the bustle happens in coordination, without pollution, and with a woman centered in the middle to put cars back on the track when they fall off. The intricacy and scale of the work are particularly striking, with some of the fun stemming from watching others watch all the whizzing and whirring.