Featuring: Chris Burden
Organized by Irene Tsatsos with Julie Deamer in collaboration with architects Linda Taalman and Alan Koch of TK Architecture, formerly of OpenOffice.
Discussion between Chris Burden and Alan Koch
Thursday, 17 April 2003 at 7:30 pm
This discussion is part of a lecture series organized by Cara Mullio for LA Forum for Architecture and Urban Design
This project is part of Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions’ special 25th Anniversary Series
“It’s kind of like a modern day log cabin.”
Chris Burden on Small Skyscraper
Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions presented a solo exhibition by Chris Burden called Small Skyscraper that ran from 1 May through 27 July 2003. An opening reception took place on 1 May 2003, 6 – 8 pm. This exhibition was organized by Irene Tsatsos with Julie Deamer of Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions in collaboration with architects Linda Taalman and Alan Koch of TK Architecture, founders of OpenOffice. This project was part of Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions’ special 25th Anniversary Series.
In 1991, while building a studio on his property, and frustrated by Los Angeles County building codes, artist Chris Burden sketched the first drawings of Small Skyscraper. Eight years later, he was approached by Linda Taalman and Alan Koch of TK Architecture (formerly of OpenOffice) to collaborate on developing actual building plans based on these provocative and contentious drawings. The horizontal presentation of Small Skyscraper at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions from 1 May through 27 July 2003 marked the first of three public components of this project’s collaborative realization.
Small Skyscraper is a quasi legal structure that exploits a loop hole Chris Burden discovered in the Los Angeles County building codes. This loop hole allows small out buildings, like green houses and sheds, to be built without a building permit if they stay within 400 square feet and under 35 feet high. Small Skyscraper uses these legal size restrictions as a point of departure. The total structure, four rooms stacked one on top of the other, measures 400 square feet and rises 35 feet in height. Even though Small Skyscraper strictly adheres to the County’s spatial requirements, it continues to push the legal and physical parameters of architectural construction because of added design features, such as a low roof parapet, and because it functions as a domestic dwelling.
Small Skyscraper will be a visually compelling work of art that informs today’s fertile conversation between art and architecture. It will demonstrate a minimalist approach to material efficiency and aesthetic form, provide a fresh and humorous way to revisit recurring architectural issues, such as governmental regulation of building structures, issues of public vs. private, and the tall building typology. This is a unique opportunity to transform the artist’s concept for a dramatically vertical house into something tangible, offering our community an altered, humorous and aesthetically compelling interpretation of sculpture disguised as a house disguised as a skyscraper.
Small Skyscraper is a sculpture disguised as a house disguised as a skyscraper. It is built with advanced lightweight technology and designed to be erected by untrained builders with a minimum of tools and equipment at a fraction of the cost of a more traditional domestic dwelling. This structure was built by students from Southern California Institute of Architecture during a workshop led by TK Architecture and by students from Art Center College of Design. As installed here, inside and sideways, the structure emphasizes the work’s minimal efficiency, blurs the boundaries between conceptual sculpture and architecture, and shakes up architectural assumptions about form and function. At the close of this exhibition, Small Skyscraper was disassembled and moved to an outdoor site in Topanga Canyon where the structure will be erected vertically. A publication will document this project’s organic development from its drawing and planning stages to its material realization.
The mission of Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions emphasizes the production as well as the presentation of new art work by providing significant opportunities to artists for large-scale, ambitious projects where ideas developed in studio practice are pushed and cultivated beyond conventional expectations. This project by Chris Burden with TK Architecture provided this organization with an ideal opportunity to put into practice these institutional goals. “Small Skyscraper” informs today’s fertile conversation between art and architecture. It demonstrates a minimalist approach to material efficiency and aesthetic form, provides a fresh and humorous way to revisit recurring architectural issues, and as a portable architectural structure it directly opposes traditional notions of stability and permanence.
Corresponding Public Programs
Two discussions occurred prior to but in conjunction with Chris Burden’s “Small Skyscraper” presentation at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions.
* Wednesday 9 April 2003 at 7:00 pm
Chris Burden presented his work at Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc). Please contact Jennifer Dunlop at 213.613.2200 ext. 348 for more details.
* Thursday 17 April 2003, 7:30 pm
As part of a lecture series organized by Cara Mullio for LA Forum for Architecture and Urban Design, Chris Burden and Alan Koch spoke about “Small Skyscraper” and its collaborative realization at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions.
The presentation of Small Skyscraper at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions corresponded to The MAK Center for Art and Architecture’s presentation of the TRESPASSING: Houses X Artists exhibition, of which “Small Skyscraper” is a part. TRESPASSING: Houses X Artists, curated by Cara Mullio, was initiated by Linda Taalman and Alan Koch who worked collaboratively with internationally renowned visual artists to design architectural proposals for domestic dwellings. The MAK exhibition, which was presented in two phases, included drawings and models of the entire TRESPASSING: Houses X Artists project. For more information about TRESPASSING: Houses X Artists and The MAK Center for Art and Architecture please visit makcenter.
Friday, May 16 at 8 pm, on the grounds of the Schindler House, The MAK Center for Art and Architecture presented, in partnership with Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, an outdoor screening of early Chris Burden performances from 1971-74 and a documentary on the making of Burden’s seminal 1980 project, Big Wheel. General admission to the screening was $10; $5 for students, Friends of the Schindler House and Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions members.