In 1985, the late Chris Burden created a piece entitled Beam Drop for Art Park in New York. The piece, involving a ‘performance’ of sorts while ultimately producing an art object as well, signals Burden’s transition to sculpture.
“Sixty enormous steel L-beams fall a dizzying 100 to 120 feet from a crane into a foundation of wet cement. They stick up like awkward, hostile pillars, clanging as they crowd together in a bulky clump. “Using chance as an integral element in art-making has historical precedence in the works of such renowned artists as Jackson Pollock, Marcel Duchamp, and John Cage,” wrote Burden in a statement on the piece. “However, most artists of monumental steel sculpture have not embraced randomness as the essential component of their work.”-Interview Magazine
”The beams are symbolic of culture and order,” Mr. Burden said yesterday at the site. ”Our most dignified structures, like the World Trade Center or Chicago’s Sears Tower, are made of them. My idea is to play with these building blocks of order, to be impudent with them. I think people relate to that.”-Douglas McGill, Art Make Of I-Beams And Concrete, New York Times, August 3, 1984
The video above: “Beam Drop Inhotim” is the 2008 recreation of the original piece displayed at Art Park (New York) in 1985 and that was destroyed three years later.
Chris Burden: For my next project, Beam Drop: Brazil, I’m recreating a piece I originally constructed in 1985. The piece is meant to be both a large abstract expressionist painting and a steel sculpture… constructed by filling in a 10-foot deep pit with loose dirt and wet concrete and dropping 100 vertically-raised steel I-beams into the pit. The process and end result are filmed.