I think it would be cool to be a Broadie (Broad Museum, Visitor Services Associate ). Hang out with the art. Talk about the work with visitors. And sure, tell peeps not to get too close sometimes.
I was talking with a Marcianomonsta (Marciano Art Foundation, Visitor Services Associate (VSA)) who told me that being a Broadie was just too much and that she liked her new job as a Marcianomonsta much better. Still, I kind of thought I’d enjoy the too much of The Broad and it’s Spectacle of Instagram.
But for all the Broadies working the Kusama Infinity Mirrors show today, it seemed different. Whether or not you were the Broadie with the stopwatch, gently kicking peeps out of the room after 30 seconds, or at any of the other stations, it was just so much crowd control. It looked like a lot of work. A lot of being on for an endless stream of public. Dare I say, an Infinite Public.
The Lascaux Cave, The Rolling Stones, and Kusama Infinity Rooms don’t scale
What does scale? Kim Kardashian. The iPhone. Anybody, or at least anybody with US$700, can have an iPhone. And with that iPhone, you can join the 105 million other people who follow Kim Kardashian on Instagram.
But the Caves at Lascaux do not. After 20 years of human breath, the 16,000-year-old art started to disintegrate. Today it’s hard to even get into the Disneyland of Prehistory, Lascaux II.
If you like stadium spectacles, then you can enjoy The Rolling Stones and every mega-band since them. But if you like sitting in a small club and being close enough to actually see the singer’s lips move, then that experience hasn’t been available for a long time.
The Broad Museum here in Los Angeles, and the organizing Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., are doing a commendable job of realizing an impossible task. To provide individual humans with a singular experience on an impossibly large scale.
The Mayan Ball Court and The Rothko Chapel
Why did Mark Rothko want a “chapel” to install his art in? I think because the sublime cannot be experienced in 30 seconds.
I sat at the Mayan Ball Court at Chichen Itza, Mexico for 3 hours. I looked. I sat. I loitered. I meandered. Perhaps I was a psychic flâneur, in that my experience was not about the few humans contemporaneously there with me, but about wondering, and imagining, about the events at this place so long ago.
I didn’t really need photos from Chichen Itza because, after 180 minutes, I had experienced a meaningful part of this place. At Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors you get 30 seconds in each of 6 rooms. A total of 180 seconds of experience. The work is powerful. It is as sublime as one can experience in 30 seconds.
The wall text states:
Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away is an immersive environment that fosters an out-of-body experience… this installation creates a harmonious and quiet place for visitors to contemplate their existence, reflect on the passage of time, and think about their relationship to the outer world.
It sounds like the wall text is describing The Rothko Chapel to me. Not art-as-entertainment-as-thrill-ride.
I’m not really complaining. It is beautiful work. It is sublime. I felt lucky to experience it. Even for 30 seconds. Like the Mayan Ball Court or the Rothko Chapel, I could have stood there for 3 hours. But this is retail experience. Pay. See. Move on. I don’t know a better way to show or experience this work. It is a presentation at scale, of work that does not scale.
Outside the Rusty Mullet @ Hollywood Blvd. & Las Palmas
1708 N. Las Palmas, Hollywood, CA
Starbucks Hollywood & McCadden, 6am – 10pm, daily
6745 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028
A woman tries on a Lucha Libre mask in a booth at Johnny Rockets at Hollywood & Highland.
A family on the Gold Line toward East Los Angeles.
They seemed animated and festive. But it turns out that the moment I snapped my one frame of them, was this somber moment.
I tried to wake her up when we got to Union Station. But she was out.
I’d eaten at Veggie Grill on Sunset & Vine, walked up Cahuenga back to Hollywood Blvd, and was now heading West toward the Trump Star at Hollywood & Highland when Kris said “Hi! Those are great glasses!”
A conversation effortlessly ensued. Kris was either a little high or else just bubbly and engaging. The topic turned to What is Art?
Kris said the question confused her. A lot. But in fact, her insights were exceptional. I won’t try to recreate the conversation for fear that I’ll either make her seem more informed than she really was, or less intuitive than she really was. My sense was that she had no formal training. She didn’t use any art words or mention any artists, other than Bob Ross. But she definitely had an intuitive and clear idea of art in the 21st century. Even if how clear she was, wasn’t clear to her. Having taught “Art Appreciation” to 4,842 students in the past 12 years at Long Beach State, I can tell you that understanding the domain of art to be far beyond Renaissance & Impressionist Painting, is not a trivial thing.
Kris asked what I was doing and I told her about the Trump Star project. She asked if I was on Instagram or Snapchat and I told her I was glenn_irs on both. She looked at the Trump Star pix on IG and seemed to like them. More conversation on the nature of art followed. Kris wanted to know if “sitting here and kicking off my shoes” could be art?
She said “let’s walk to Hollywood & Highland” and so we continued West on Hollywood Blvd toward the place I’d been heading in the first place.
I can’t hang with people who aren’t honest
Just before we came to Hollywood Toys & Costumes, and Outfitter Wigs, Kris pulled on my hair and asked,
Is this a wig?
No. You think my hair is a wig!?
Oh, so you dye your hair, like me?
No, this is my natural color.
No, I’m just kidding.
Are you gay?
How old are you?
No, you’re not!
This is when Kris told me that she was 23, and Rachel said that she was 21, and Kris said that I was definitely not 62. Kris asked me 3 or 4 times how old I was and I continued to tell her that I was 62. She said that she couldn’t hang out with someone who wasn’t honest with her. I said, why would I lie about being 62?
I need a minute.
Can you give me a minute?
Kris and Rachel step aside and huddle for a minute.
Glenn, we’re gonna go.
OK. Keep up the good work.
With that, I turned West and continued down Hollywood Blvd. They turned East and walked the other way. Our conversation ended as abruptly as it had begun.
Union Station is mostly wide spaces with no seats. What seats there are are restricted to special travelers, or customers of fancy restaurants and shoe-shine services. The large courtyards are almost void of seats, except, again, for the paid dining seats.
Union Station is the hub for Train, Bus, and Metro Rail transportation in Los Angeles. Just don’t expect to find a seat there.
Some of their lyrics may have been a bit NSFW.
They were having a lot of fun.
And, more generally, diverse teams come up with better, more inclusive solutions than project teams from monocultures.
Union Station. Gold Line Platform.