That room right there in that photo? Totally glowy in hot pink light, that you get to stand in the middle of, blissfully losing touch with reality, even though you’ve got super-dork booties on your feet. Like you’re some kinda hippie barefoot doctor of… not helping people.
My friend Chris Turnham asked if Ervin and I wanted to go to LACMA (Los Angeles County Mega Awesome…right?) to see the James Turrell retrospective, a few weeks back.
“YES!!” I said. And then, “Who is James Turrell?” is what I typed into Google. Ah-HA. He does art with light and something or…. I don’t know. But everyone and their blogging bestie was raving about this show. I wasn’t NOT gonna go.
It was actually my maiden voyage to LACMA. I’d driven by a zillion times. And I’d been to the underwhelming tar pits before. Now, they’ve half-assedly tied the “sinking” elephants to land. SOMEONE GIVE THIS PLACE SOME MONEY FOR FREE-FLOATING ELEPHANTS. (Animatronics?? RIGHT??) The coolest part of the tar pits is the thick tar that’s actually bubbling out onto the sidewalk, outside the bounds of the museum. Like, I dunno — maybe a pedestrian or two could get caught in it and, oh, maybe they… go extinct? “Hey, you guys? Um. My shoe is stuck in that tar, so I just stepped out of it, but… oh great. Now my other shoe’s stuck in it.”
A slow death.
FIRST things first at LACMA: “LEVITATED MASS”. Everyone’s favorite rock on top of thing. You can walk under it, while casually fearing for your life. There’s something about the rock being so hard to find and being of particular ilk, for this piece. It’s incredible because literally there are no rocks around here at all. OH WAIT. WE LIVE ON A GIANT FAULT LINE FULL OF ROCKS BRAGGING ABOUT WHAT ROCKS DO.
When’s the last time you went to a museum? You know — the no photography, no touching anything kind? No food or drinks? YES. Now it’s coming back. There’s a short list of rules to follow! And you will break every one of them without ever trying!
First, we got in trouble for being in possession of water. “Sir, please put your water away.” It’s all Sir and Ma’am, at the principal’s office. We put it away and ventured into room one of James Turrell. INCREDIBLE. You don’t even have to pretend to like art or museums. He will blow your mind. I wanted to live in every room we stepped into.
“I want to live here.” Blue light infiltrated my eyeballs and pushed through my brain as I slowly walked toward its source.
“Ma’am – please step away from the light.” The woman in front of me got busted for getting too close to the light art. It was as if I was witnessing her near death experience. “Well, I just wanted to see it”, she said, as she adjusted her fanny pack which is in style again – WHY.
I tried to sneak a photo. Like, in my mind. I’m a RULE FOLLOWER, and still I got in trouble. “Ma’am — stay 5 feet back.” Each piece had a different personal space. “Ma’am — 7 feet back, please.” “Ma’am…” We walked into a room with so little light, I was reaching my hands out in front of me to find the walls, and walking as if there would be a surprise staircase at every turn.
The three of us sat on a bench in the back of a large room, with a low-lit design on the far wall. We could see silhouettes of a few people. Including a security guard who held up his hand like a combination hi-five and “hello”. But really I think he was telling us that we have to watch this light for 5 minutes to get the full effect. He stood awkwardly close to us, so we walked into the center of the room. The guard walked in front of us again, and went to do something near the art.
I thought he was gonna pull down his pants so fast that we’d be in shock and unable to describe it in a police report. Chris thought he was going to pee in front of us. Ervin was already done with the security guard, and had left the room.
We didn’t last the 5 minutes.
Outside, we joined a line for this last Turrell experience. The one from the photo up top. The line was 45 minutes long. We asked two recent college grads if it was worth the wait.
Girl 1: OMG YEAH. This is our second time. WE LOVED IT. It’s amazing. The colors change when you’re in there, and you’re like what am I looking at and it’s so amazing…
Girl 2: (High face).
Us: Cool! Thanks.
We wondered if we had to be on drugs to appreciate the majesty of the light, but we didn’t. It was surreal and peaceful and quietly electrifying. Full of fresh air. It was called “Breathing Light” after all. Of course I wanted to live there, too.
I might do ok in a sensory deprivation chamber! Who knows! Never say never, right?
All these vintage photos of fashion icons and celebrities in her prints… I couldn’t take it all in. I also enjoyed watching girls get in trouble for posing with the hundreds of mannequins wearing DVF. “MA’AM! NO MOLESTING THE MANNEQUINS.”
Chris is going to hate this photo, but I had to include it because as magical and childlike as I felt in the Spaghetti PENETRABILE, it is the elegant, stringy equivalent of the plastic balls at Chuck E. Cheese, germ-wise.
We all made it out alive.
And I gotta say, maybe even a little inspired.
At least until the tar gets us.