The West Coast of the United States has been a hotbed of art ever since the end of World War II, and in the 1970s, the creative ferment in Southern California took on some odd and alarming forms in the works of Chris Burden, Jack Goldstein, and Bas Jan Ader. These loosely affiliated artists pushed performance art to its physical limits, often placing their own lives in danger, intentionally hurting themselves, or simply vanishing in provocative ways. Thus the title of Disappearing — California, c. 1970, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth’s new show about these artists.
The late Burden started the movement with his thesis work at UC-Irvine, which involved him being shoved into a locker for five days. Later, he had himself shot in the arm for an artwork. The Canadian-born Goldstein made traditional art but also buried himself alive to record the sounds of his own heartbeat, as well as making art installations from the sounds of stampedes and people drowning. No one pushed further than the Dutchman Ader, who truly disappeared in 1975 trying to sail a small boat from Cape Cod to Groningen as part of what would have been an epic work incorporating photography and music. In an age defined by Watergate and the Vietnam War, the anxieties of an era played out in the artistic actions of these mavericks.
Disappearing — California, c. 1970 runs Sat-Aug 11 at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 3200 Darnell St, FW. Tickets are $10-16. Call 817-738-9215.