A performance art piece enacted by a graduate student simulating
Russian roulette has the UCLA art department looking to fill the
places of two of its prominent faculty members.

The School of the Arts and Architecture at UCLA has started
looking to fill one of the two vacancies left by professors Chris
Burden and Nancy Rubins, who both retired after the Nov. 29
incident. The search for a sculpture instructor has already been
authorized, said Chris Waterman, dean of the School of Arts and
Architecture at UCLA.

Burden had taught at UCLA since 1978, and Rubins had taught
since 1982. Before the incident, Burden oversaw the new genres
program, which includes performance and electronic art. Rubins was
a professor of sculpture.

The department feels the loss of two of the school’s more
renowned artists will not hurt the reputation of the art school
because other famous artists still teach there, Waterman added.

“The reputation never depends on a few individuals,”
he said. “It’s always a collective total.”

The two professors requested retirement partly because the
university did not suspend Joseph Deutch, the graduate student
involved in the performance, said Sarah Watson, a director at
Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills who represents the two artists,
in a Jan. 22 Los Angeles Times article.

“There should have been more outrage and a firmer
response,” she said to The Los Angeles Times. “People
feared for their lives.”

According to witness reports that appeared in The Los Angeles
Times, Deutch appeared to be holding a handgun to his head in a
performance art piece at the graduate art studio in Culver City and
pulled the trigger.

After the gun did not fire the first time, Deutch quickly left
the room and a shot was heard from outside.

In addition to the incident, Watson told The Los Angeles Times
that Burden and Rubins were unsatisfied with UCLA because of budget
cutbacks and other problems that interfered with the art
department’s operation.

Watson was out of town and could not be reached for comment
Monday.

UCLA Student Conduct Code statute 102.20 prohibits the
possession, use, storage or manufacture of a firearm on campus
except when permitted by the law. During the investigation, Deutch
handed the police a gun that was not real.

Deutch declined to comment, noting that his status with the
university is still tenuous. Deutch has been allowed to continue
his studies, but action is still pending.

“Technically, the (student conduct) code doesn’t
address replicas,” said Robert Naples, dean of students.
“I don’t know what municipal, state or federal law
addresses in regard to replicas.”

Naples noted that statute 102.25 of the Student Conduct Code
allows the university to take disciplinary action against an
individual who violates federal, state or local laws.

There are laws against using replica firearms in a way where
people can perceive them as real, but because the district attorney
declined to hear the case, it is out of police jurisdiction and is
solely in the control of the university, said Nancy Greenstein,
director of community services for the UC Police Department.

An interim suspension was not imposed on Deutch because it was
determined that he did not pose a clear and present danger on
campus, Naples said, but added that this does not mean that the
university is not doing anything.

“The matter has not yet been resolved, and once it’s
resolved, the university will either take no action or it will take
some action,” Naples said, noting that there is a range of
sanctions if it is determined that a student has violated the
conduct code.