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Kinetic Sculpture at the LACMA

May 03, 2016

Chris Burden is an artist who infamous for "Shoot," a 1974 piece of performance art in which a "friend" shoots him in the arm. His more recent exploits are less violent, but no less radical. Metropolis II is a "kinetic" sculpture. That's right, a sculpture that moves. The piece occupies the an entire room in the Broad Contemporary Art Museum at LACMA. The piece is so large -- and intricate -- that spectators need a bird's-eye view, which is provided by a balcony running along three walls.

Metropolis II is a replica of a modern city set on an electric grid. It boasts 18 roadways, train tracks, a six lane freeway, and over 1100 toy cars. From the museum's website: "Miniature cars speed through the city at 240 scale miles per hour; every hour, the equivalent of approximately 100,000 cars circulate through the dense network of buildings."

Burden aimed to recreate the noise, perpetual movement, and "stress of living in a dynamic, active and bustling 21st century city." He was, of course, also inspired by his childhood toys. The project took four years to build and has been at LACMA since fall 2011.

While Metropolis II is always on display, you want to choose your times carefully. This model city, unlike our real cities, is not perpetually running. The cars and trains only move at one hour intervals on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. On Fridays, you can see the sculpture in motion from 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM, 1:30 - 2:30 PM, 3:30 - 4:30, and 5:30 to 6:30. One Saturdays and Sundays, the fun begins at 10:30 AM, and runs ever other hour thereafter.

The LACMA is on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, about a fifteen minute ride from the Chamberlain. Tickets are $15 for adults. Children under 17 get free admission.

Address: 5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles