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'The Reason for the Neutron Bomb': Chris Burden and Bryon Kim
Sunday: 10 AM - 4 PM
Thursday: 10 AM - 4 PM
Friday: 10 AM - 4 PM
Saturday: 10 AM - 4 PM
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