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'The Reason for the Neutron Bomb': Chris Burden and Bryon Kim

Courtesy of MCASD
Chris Burden's "The Reason for the Neutron Bomb" is on view at MCASD downtown.
Every week from June 4, 2022 until October 23, 2022.
Sunday: 10 AM - 4 PM
Thursday: 10 AM - 4 PM
Friday: 10 AM - 4 PM
Saturday: 10 AM - 4 PM
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego: Downtown
Admission is free on the second Sunday and third Thursday of each month.

From 5 works of art to see in San Diego this summer (KPBS feature, July 2022):
Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego: Downtown

In a special installation, MCASD has thoughtfully paired the late artist Chris Burden's 1979 large-scale piece, "The Reason for the Neutron Bomb," with three paintings by La Jolla-born artist Byron Kim. What I loved about this installation was where it took me, and how each element loops together — a sort of somber magic.

Burden's Cold War-era piece is made up of 50,000 nickels, uniformly arranged across the floor. Attached to the top of each nickel is a piece of matchstick. The little sculptures represent the sheer volume of Soviet tanks, and how they outnumbered the tanks of the countries in the Western Bloc — which partly justified the development of nuclear weaponry in the United States. Along the back wall, above the arrangement of nickels, all-caps lettering reads the words "The reason for the neutron bomb," set askew.

Directly across from that wall, the only other artworks in the room are the three unassuming 2015 Byron Kim paintings. Each canvas is painted entirely black, but patterns catch the light in different ways, forming unique shapes and meaning for each piece. Kim uses glue, shellac, wax and varnish to add direction, shading, striping and texture to the works, inspired by the 1915 Panama California Exposition in San Diego. At the fair, San Ildefonso Pueblo potter Maria Martinez exhibited her all-black pottery, some resembling a mushroom cloud. The installation description points out that Martinez lived just miles from where the atomic bomb would ultimately be developed at Los Alamos.

Exhibition information. On view 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday through Sunday, through Oct. 23, 2022. MCASD, 1100 Kettner Blvd., downtown. $0-$10

Related links:
MCASD visiting information
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Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego: Downtown

1100 Kettner Blvd.
San Diego, California 92101

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Dates and times of events are subject to change without notice. Always check the event organizer's website for the most updated schedule before attending.