June 9, 2008

Chris Burden's Massive Erector

Rockefeller Center, originally uploaded by peterjr1961.

What My Dad Gave Me by Chris Burden is the latest project from the Public Art Fund and Tishman-Speyer, one of the owners of Rockefeller Center.

It's a 65-foot tall model of a skyscraper built out of around one million custom-made, nickel-plated steel beams that replicate the pieces in A.C. Gilbert's original 1913 Erector Set. No. 1

It took Burden's lackeys almost a year to construct [in sections] at the artist's Topanga Canyon studio. Then it was test-assembled, dismantled, flown out of the canyon by helicopter, and shipped to Manhattan for re-assembly.

Burden has been working in the medium of Erector Set replica parts for nearly ten years. In the NY Times article previewing What My Dad Gave Me, the artist makes much of the significance ot using actual toys:

They’re the tools we use to inculcate children into how to be adults, how to live in the world, but because they’re for children, there is this potential in them that’s never realized...I mean, children could have made that, [i.e., the 65-foot skyscraper] theoretically, but they would never have enough time or parts.
What My Dad Gave Me is up right now, obviously, and gets its official opening party on Wednesday night.

An Erector Set for Rockefeller Center [nyt]
Beginning with this one, flickr user peterjr1961 has some of the first photos of the skyscraper and its installation [flickr]


Replica? Lame.

Anyways, I remember playing with my dad's erector set and thinking there's no way they'd sell that for kids anymore. And I was what... maybe 10? So 20ish years ago. Funny how being conditioned to see the danger in everything paralyzes you into a quivering pile of goo. So to speak.

But I've now made it my #1 mission - ok, maybe somewhere in the top 20 - to go find the erector set in my parents basement. Choking hazard? Maybe. But for damn sure there's no BPA or PVC!


[can you imagine how long you'd have to spend on eBay to collect 1 million vintage Erector Set girders? check out the bridges he's been making the last few years. insane. I don't mind that they're replicas, I guess. -ed.]

Actually, forget the time spent... the shipping costs would be incredible. Half the danger of the erector set is the risk of dropping that big chest on your foot!


Baby #2 is one day old. Once she's got a few more days under her belt I think the family will make its way to Rock Center.
I am a little bothered by the title of this piece. It's one of those things that rings true but at the same time, why doesn't MOM get a mention. This reminds me of the the way this site feels about the various products, blogs, etc. that use "mom" as a regular substitue for "parent."

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