Thursday, August 10, 2017

Chris Burden | Full Financial Disclosure

Chris Burden
Full Financial Disclosure
Los Angeles, USA: Jan Baum \ Iris Silverman Gallery, 1977.
unpaginated, 19.8 h x 8.8 w cm., staple bound
Edition size unknown

Like the previous post, this work is also from 1977 and feels strangely topical at the moment - given that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller is now seeking financial documents from the first presidential candidate not to release his tax returns in forty years.

Designed to resemble the artist's checkbook, Burden's bookwork opens with the preamble "In keeping with the Bicentennial spirit, the post-Watergate mood and the new atmosphere on Capitol Hill, Chris Burden wishes to be the first artist to publicly make a full financial disclosure".

The book details his expenditures for the year and concludes that his net income for 1976 was $1,054.  His earnings include sales and lecture fees ($12, 210) and grants ($5,000). His 'business expenses' included art materials ($3,416), travel ($4,309), studio expenses ($2,325) and television advertising ($6,106).

The latter, the highest expenditure by far, was a result of Burden producing Full Financial Disclosure, and three other works, as thirty-second television spots as "a way to break the omnipotent stranglehold of the airwaves that broadcast television had." Burden purchased late night airtime from local Los Angeles television stations.

The videos can be viewed, along with commentary by the artist, here.

"In September 1977, I became the first artist to make a full public financial disclosure. At the Baum-Silverman Gallery I displayed all my cancelled checks for the year 1976. A drawing was made of each month of cancelled checks by mounting them on boards in vertical columns and framing them.  Next to each check was a small type set explanation. My bank statements and my 1976 Income Tax forms were also displayed as drawings.

In addition on Los Angeles television Channels 2, 4, and 7, I ran a 30 second commercial which showed me sitting behind a large desk in the manner of a sincere politician running for office.  During this "commercial" [...] the television screen displayed a series of graphics showing my 1976 gross income, a detailed list of my 1976 business expenses, and finally my net income for 1976. This commercial was aired 30 times during a two week period."
- Chris Burden

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