Saturday, March 3, 2012
Like A Rolling Stone - Levitated Mass Is On Its Way To LACMA
"Megalith slated to become part of Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass, en route to Ontario, CA, during the second night of transport to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, March 1, 2012, © Michael Heizer, photo by Tom Vinetz", photo and legend snatched from LACMA's Unframed blog.
As far as FBC! is concerned, usually "rock" is primarily a type of music that is prevalent in our household, and, secondly, er, natural formations I never really think about, since I stopped collecting ocean-washed pebbles sometimes before I reached my first decade.
But if you live in Los Angeles, and maybe elsewhere, you may be aware that in just a few days, a Michael Heizer piece, Levitated Mass, will be finally achieved/completed at LACMA, after one part of it, a gigantic boulder, will have ended its journey from a quarry a hundred miles away to be finally positioned atop a concrete trench on the museum's premises.
I've heard a bunch of complaints about the cost of the project, how it could be better spent elsewhere, etc. So, to lay matter to rest, I just want to remind everybody that the museum spent about $70,000 on the boulder/the rock itself, and that most of the massive rumored costs of $10 millions for the piece are in fact devoted to transporting the rock from its quarry in Riverside County to Los Angeles. Moreover, these are picked up by the company undertaking the move, Hanjin Shipping, a Korean shipping company; it's not even a private foundation that could, I don't know, fund a children hospital or whatever. Maybe they donate the money and their expertise to experiment with what can be done, but it's not as if they were diverting it from a cancer research fund, and I'm not sure they can actually get a tax write-off for that (since they're foreign).
I don't really know how much the museum spent on building the trench, but as far as having a spectacular artwork in its collection, it cost far less for LACMA than, say, if it were to acquire a gigantic Murakami piece. For the very many non-art people occasionally reading us, there are tons of useless projects that cost tons of money that should be devoted to useful things and nobody ever raise a ruckus about them. From the top of my head, I'd say the Academy Awards Ceremony, any Thanksgiving parade, or whatever is invested into Republican super-PACs is as useless as a gigantic rock atop a cement trench, so please give us art people a break and go complain next time there's a Super Bowl half-time mediocre singer playing that the money would be better spent caring for abandoned horses in Montana or something.
Now, what do I personally think about this particular project? Honestly, I don't give a damn, but I'll likely come and take a pic of the trailer/truck/red toy when it arrives on Miracle Mile. I have nothing for/against Michael Heizer, even though I think that type of spectacular "land art" (in an urban setting) is getting a bit tired. But if it gives LACMA some publicity, good for them.
Now, what do I think about the money spent? Well, I'd rather some sponsor would step in at LACMA and gives them 10 millions to actually augment their collection with art made either by Los Angeles artists, or artists originating from here.
LACMA has "Los Angeles" in its name, unlike MOCA and the Hammer, and I think its duty would be to put artists from the region in their collection, which is pitiful in this regard. The gaps there are from the generation that came in prominence on the international art scene from the late 1970s to now are problematic, not only because many artists are missing, but also because when there are represented, it is very often with minor works. So, if some corporate company - you know, the ones that have feelings because they are people, too- would step and donate money for the museum to buy exclusively art made by artists either working there or who had formative roots in the region, it would be a fantastic act of real philanthropy.
Meanwhile, I do have a beef with LACMA spending $10 millions (of private money, again) on trying to see if Jeff Koons' detumescent choo-choo is feasible. I am very sorry, Michael Govan, but if there is a phallic, detumescent, gigantic mechanical sculpture to be made on LACMA's campus, then why don't you ask Paul McCarthy to do it for Chrissakes?
Gee, that would be the natural thing to do in Los Angeles, Mr. I-believe-I'm-in-synch-with-the-Los Angeles-art-scene-because-I'm pal-with-Jorge-Pardo. There are so many great LA artists who could benefit from special commissions (say, Liz Larner, Marnie Weber, Ken Gonzalez-Day, Mark Bradford...) or simply whose work should be acquired ahead of, say, Ai Weiwei or Christian Marclay. I have nothing against the latter artists, but I've heard over and over again out of town visitors wondering why there was so little art from Los Angeles presented in our local museums. I sure hope the recent spate of exhibitions linked to the Pacific Standard Time project will make a significant change, that is museums are going to try and augment their collections rather than only stage temporary exhibitions.
One last thing about Govan's series of outdoor projects at LACMA: I hate to break it to you, but there is actually one piece by Barry LeVa in your collection that isn't merely a work on paper. It's a sketch/blueprint for a gigantic broken glass piece that the museum could realize if it wanted to*. Because you know what? It belongs to the museum. Have your assistant research "young talents award" if you're unsure. No need to get funds to buy it, just find some corporate glass maker to donate broken glass (on the top of my head, I'd say a US subsidiary of French glass maker Saint-Gobain, but maybe Corning or Anchor King or Pyrex or whatever would be happy to donate), use your museum manpower to lay it, and voilà, a giant, wonderful piece by Barry LeVa to be enjoyed by all.
Nobody will accuse you to pander to the art market, local collectors' big egos, or spend way too much money on out-of-town artists (because, as I'm sure you know, Barry LeVa might be living in NYC but he's actually from Long Beach).
No, don't thank me, my pleasure. I love telling local museums when they have great pieces in their collections.
*It's my understanding it should be an outdoor piece, but I may be wrong on that count.