This article originally appeared at The New York Times.
This short documentary celebrates the late conceptual artist Chris Burden’s landmark work “Shoot,” in which a friend shot him in the arm.
What does it take to get shot in the name of art? For the late conceptual artist Chris Burden, who did just that, it required courage, vision and an excellent triggerman. One willing to accept the risk that if he missed his target by inches, art could morph into homicide.
So when Mr. Burden, who died on May 10, decided to create “Shoot,” back in 1971, he made sure to find both a trained marksman and a trustworthy friend. Under the auspices of performance art, a handful of friends gathered in a makeshift art gallery and watched a long-haired man train his .22-caliber rifle on Mr. Burden.
As Mr. Burden’s profile in the art world grew, the national media discovered “Shoot,” and the video became central to his growing reputation. Documentation of the performance is now collected in major museums.
But the identity of the man who shot Mr. Burden in the arm was kept secret.
I set out to track him down. I learned that he was a fellow art student of Mr. Burden’s, figured out his name, and persuaded him to give his first on-camera interview for this Op-Doc video. He had long ago cut his hair, given up his artistic ambitions and embarked on a successful career as an accountant.
But for a moment decades ago, these two young men were united in making risk-centric art. A dangerous, resonant collaboration before their lives took different paths.
Eric Kutner is a director and editor who lives in Los Angeles.