You'll believe a Steamroller can Fly!
After the grand but ultimately rather sedate set of Californian streetlamps at the South London Gallery, it's good that Burden has finally managed to put on a piece with some clout in the UK (remember the model plane machine fiasco at Tate Britain?). On the windswept parade ground at Chelsea College sits a huge set up. 12 tonne yellow steamroller, thick platform of chippings, scaffolding towers and a huge swinging arm with hefty conterweight. Every half hour a guy starts up the engine and slooooowly drives the steamroller around in a big circle. He changes gears, puts his foot down, picks up speed until it must be going at - ooh - 8mph? Then the arm lifts up and he switches off the engine.
The steamroller and driver spin round sedately a couple of times in silence before gently landing and rolling to a halt. Round of applause from gathered audience. This is everything it sets out to be: performance, sculpture, impressive feat of engineering, spectacular event, ridiculous proposition... one of the best things I've seen all year. Also strangely low key, but that's part of the problematic. When resources are poured into getting something done, it gets done, and then the thing doesn't seem like such a big deal after all, although at first it seemed impossible. CLAB would like to personally thank Chris Burden for letting us see a flying steamroller once in our lives! Thanks Chris.