Bad Boys for Life
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Fascinating documentary about Michael Heizer's 'Levitated Mass' exhibit at the LACMA
This is a movie about moving a rock a couple hundred miles.
It's a really big rock.
"Levitated Mass" a work of art by Michael Heizer has become a Los Angeles institution, several notches below Disney Hall. It consists of a gigantic boulder suspended over a big notch in the ground through which viewers may travel, viewing the rock from all angles including directly underneath.
This movie follows the history of the piece from conception, to the moment when after literally decades the artist discovers the right boulder with which to execute the work, and then centers on the incredible effort taken to move the rock from its quarry to its resting place at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The trip is a virtual party - where ever it goes, it's surrounded by gawkers and well-wishers, many of whom opine on camera about the experience and the notion of this work of "art." Considerable time is also spent examining some of Heizer's other works, all of which tend to work with vast pieces of space, sometimes carved into the earth, and the viewer's relationship to the space.
It's a fun trip. and hearing people from museum directors to skeptics to engineers tasked with moving the thing, to city directors coping with permitting the risky move will give you an appreciation both for the work and for the effort it takes to makes something as odd as this to happen.
1.2 million pounds and 10 million dollars.......fascinating.
Possibly one of the best documentaries I've seen.
Anyone living in southern California in 2012 became acquainted with the excitement and controversy surrounding the "rock" (unless you were living under a rock, that is). Art, which is so often personal and subjective, took on a whole different persona with LACMA's acquisition of "Levitated Mass." Pray's excellent documentary chronicles these sometimes thorny events, as well as looks at the work of artist, Michael Heizer, who is known for his incredible land sculptures.
While telling us how and why a ginormous rock traveled through the streets of L.A., Doug Pray and crew explore the meanings of art, commerce, choice, meaning, interpretation, personal expression, and public responsibility through brief comments from onlookers, bystanders, officials, and administrators. There's a variety of opinions from a variety of sources. There's a good balancing of 'it's their money' opinions vs 'they could have used the money better' and 'it's art' vs 'it's a silly waste' (I'd say that these are ALL true). That's the movie's strength.
But I'm left with some questions.
It's rather glossed over in just a passing mention that the perpetrators of this move did not give communities normal lead time for processing and reviewing permits and permissions - 6 months vs usual 12-18 months according to the movie. Permitting seems to have been an afterthought. Was there pressure put on communities to approve this project or be painted as 'obstructionist'? Did the museum pay for the many utility and police workers involved in the expedition? Or was it left to the affected communities to absorb these costs?
And then there's the museum representative who's a bit snarkily dismissive of 'part time' city workers impeding the permitting process. I hope P.R. had a talk with him about ... well, P.R ... 'cause that's the kind of thing that can come back to bite you the next time you need a favor.
Utterly engrossing both thematically and logistically. #PIFFfave