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[Herb Ritts, “Richard Gere-Poolside”, 1982]
I’ve been wanting to visit Palm Springs again and I was looking for a reason to do so this spring. I thought that wildflower blossoms might be reason enough, but now there’s a reason I have to go: Backyard Oasis!
This exhibit, part of the mega art event that is Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A., 1945-1980,showcases images of swimming pools both on film and in photographs from the mid-20th century and appropriately celebrates them as “an integral part of the region’s identity.” Here’s more from the show’s statement: “These images of individual water-based environs in the arid landscape are…a microcosm of the hopes and disillusionments of the country’s post-World War II ethos. As a private setting, the backyard pool became a stage for sub-culture rituals and clandestine desires. As a medium, photography became the primary vehicle for embodying the polar emotions of consumer optimism and Cold War fears.” Ooh, sounds like the beginning of a rad 50’s B movie to me!
But seriously, the show features over 130 images and they are having occasional film screenings and educational lectures for the duration. They already hosted a symposium in November 2011 and on opening day there was a panel discussion, both of which I am sorry to have missed, but I am looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of the catalogue. It features essays by Dick Hegdige and Jennifer Watts (among others), on topics such as dystopia, celebrity and masculinity. Whoa, I think I better stop nerding out at this point.
For more information, check out:
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OK, so I finally made it to this installation at the MOCA Geffen Contemporary, which includes the wonderfully immersive exhibit by Brazilian multimedia artists Hélio Oiticica and Neville D’Almeida, entitled Cosmococa-Programa in Progress, CC4 Nocagions (1973).
In an effort to create a socially and sensually engaged space that invites the viewers’ participation, the artists conceived of and eventually constructed a pool three feet deep, surrounded by colored light and monitored by a lifeguard. On two walls opposite the pool, projected images of John Cage’s book Notations, embellished with lines of cocaine and all manner of drug paraphanalia, flash sporadically — an apparent homage to some of the substances of the artists’ inspiration. John Cage’s music also plays in a loop in the background as an homage to the act of appropriation that artists habitually indulge in. There are also adjacent changing areas, lockers and a towel station, which presumably are meant to add an air of authenticity to the experience, but which also lend it a Disneyland-like quality.
If the goal was to produce a psychadelic feast for the senses, this project definitely hit the target. The pool was cut out of a raised platform that served as the deck area, which was wet with footprints and strewn with cushions to lounge on. There were no steps or ladder in the pool - you just had to plop into the water, which, as it turns out was quite cold and slightly opaque! Several children were splashing in it and screaming gleefully, along with a parent or two. The pool’s interior was uneven in spots, padded and slick, so a bit of caution was in order. The darkness of the room and the contrasting brightness of the blow-tastic slides served as a strange backdrop to the playful and familial atmosphere. Meanwhile, I was having nostalgic flashbacks to a quaalude-and-chardonnay, muu-muu wearing, Fleetwood Mac-soundtracked 70s that I was just a little too young to have actually known personally. Clothed observers came and went through the white wall space, taking in the swimmers as part of the piece, while the swimmers did the same to them. Overall, it was awkward but fun, just the way I like my modern art.
Speaking of awkward, there were supposed to be disposable swimsuits for sale in the gift shop, but I did not spy any. Don’t let this prevent you from experiencing the spectacle. I mean, when is the next time you will be able to swim inside a museum alongside your fellow patrons? So go on and get wet! You only have one more week - the exhibit closes on Sunday, 2/27.
Check out a few links, reviews and more of my pics:
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Art by Victor Muniz, care of Flavorpill
Stay tuned for Swimming in LA, the holiday in Nicaragua version in early 2011!!
Happy holidays! xo c.
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I saw and liked this photograph hanging in a gallery on Robertson on Halloween night. Sadly, I have no info about the artist, but it’s definitely a view that appeals to me, and one which I have not seen enough lately…
An actual new pool review coming next week! That is a promise!