Ponzi Titan R. Allen Stanford Meets the Art World: Chris Burden’s Gold Frozen


New millennial performance artists Bernard Madoff and R. Allen Stanford long since one-upped the once-extreme antics of avant-pioneers like Marina Abramović or Chris Burden. Car-crucifixions and self-inflicted gunshot wounds can’t hope but pale next to the sleight of hand that transmutates billions of dollars of global savings into ether and ashes. So the news that Burden and the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills were forced yesterday to postpone Burden’s newest exhibition, “One Ton, One Kilo,” on account of the fact that 220 pounds of gold Burden had intended on using to assemble the piece have been frozen by the government, had a kind of unintentionally poetic ring to it. Gagosian had bought the gold from Stanford Coins and Bullion, an Allen Stanford subsidary–meaning at the moment, they can’t have it. Gagosian’s announcement:

    We regret to inform you that the opening reception on Saturday, March 7 must be cancelled.

100 kilos of gold bricks bought by Gagosian Gallery for CHRIS BURDEN: One Ton One Kilo was purchased from Stanford Coins and Bullion, a subsidiary of Stanford Financial Group, which as widely reported in the press, is now in receivership. Unfortunately, the gallery’s gold has been frozen while the SEC investigates Stanford.

CHRIS BURDEN: One Ton One Kilo cannot be mounted until the gold bullion is released. Please continue to check our website for a new opening date.

Word is Burden was either planning on making a tower or a pick-up truck with the gold, or both–a spectacle that pales next to the 21st Century technique of spectacle, high-profile asset-forfeiture that, incidentally, knits the slimier, capitalist threads of the 2009 art-world into a snug-fitting, self-made straightjacket. Add “of Other People’s Money” to the exhibition title and take credit, Chris! [Culture Monster]

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