This was a pivotal moment in America's art movement. At the height of the Vietnam War this piece moved the complacency of the Art world into another dimension; into the world of theatre and performance from which it rooted and has blossomed ever since.
I don't know how to think of it other than as a political piece, but then, I know little of Chris Burden.
As Rod Serling would often say:
"for your perusal in the twilight zone"