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This summer, internationally renowned artist Chris Burden will exhibit a new sculpture at Rockefeller Center in New York — WHAT MY DAD GAVE ME, a dramatic, 65-foot-tall skyscraper made entirely of toy construction parts. Standing more than six stories tall at the Fifth Avenue entrance to the Channel Gardens, WHAT MY DAD GAVE ME will pay homage to the historic skyscrapers that populate New York and give the city its iconic architectural presence. WHAT MY DAD GAVE ME will be on view, free and open to the public, from June through July 2008. The exhibition is presented by the Public Art Fund and hosted by Tishman Speyer, co-owners of Rockefeller Center.thanks lisa!
WHAT MY DAD GAVE ME will be by far the most complex artwork that Chris Burden has ever made, comprised of approximately one million stainless steel parts that are replicas of Erector set pieces, the popular 20th-century children's building toy. Over the past decade, the artist has been using these specially stamped stainless steel metal parts based precisely upon those of the original Erector set to create complex and elegant sculptures of bridges. Intricately engineered to support and bear enormous weight, Burden's colossal toy constructions showcase the versatility, simplicity, and strength of their unassuming parts, combining technical sophistication with a child-like enthusiasm: building for building's sake.
In 1912, an inventor named A.C. Gilbert created the first Erector set, inspired by the steel framework of skyscrapers that he saw under construction in New York City, then at the height of a building boom. The Erector Mysto Type I—the first set Gilbert made—was a collection of small metal girders, which could be assembled with miniature nuts and bolts. Burden's fascination with this original—and now rare—building kit led him to create his own replica parts, fashioned in stainless steel and electro-plated to produce a polished nickel finish in order to make them weather—and rust—resistant.
Despite being constructed with toys, WHAT MY DAD GAVE ME will take on the dimensions of a full-scale building. Burden anticipates that its construction will require approximately one million parts total, and that the sculpture will weigh over seven tons when complete. Models and collectibles have long been important in Burden's work, reflecting his fascination with humankind's industrial ingenuity and creativity, investigating relationships between power and technology, nature and society, and enlightenment and destruction.