The Passion of the Weiss

Sometimes I rhyme slow, sometimes I rhyme quick. But most of the time, I don't rhyme.

Monday, January 30, 2006

A Bad Batch of Ecstasy

People aren’t as dumb as you think. They’re dumber. No, I’m not referring to the fact that Big Momma’s House 2, had the second-highest January box office gross ever (this is a different blog for a different time). No, I’m referring to the exercise in stupidity and pretension known as the Ecstasy: In and About Altered States exhibit that is currently running at MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary Museum.

Now from my daily rantings and ravings one might not get a sense that I maintain a legitimate though slightly uneducated interest in art (I imagine that one would more likely get a sense that I sit in an isolated cave with an Internet connection, a television set, and a handy collection of rocks that I use to throw at said television set). However, while my knowledge of the art world may be cursory at best, I’d like to believe my sense of what’s good and what isn’t is finely honed. Additionally, I’d also like believe that my knowledge of the drug world is fairly comprehensive, as the majority of my college years were spent in a frantic pursuit of any drug I could get my hands on that you couldn’t inject or snort. (Don’t tell the Scientologists, they’ll get very upset with me and I’ll never make OT-VII).

So naturally when I heard of a MOCA exhibit that combined the world of drugs and the world of art, I only had one thought going through my mind: that this would inevitably be the best combination that the world had seen since the day Tom Hanks and Peter Scoleri donned women’s clothing and a show called “Bosom Buddies” was born.

Understandably, last Saturday, when I showed up the Geffen Contemporary in the rapidly gentrifying Little Tokyo neighborhood (by the way, the Starbucks there…best) I expected a dazzling show that would entertain me more than any early 80s sitcom ever could (save for Diff’Rent Strokes).
Accordingly, some marijuana was in order to fully appreciate a drug art exhibit that advertised, nay encouraged, the use of drugs in order to fully appreciate the work involved. So smoke I did, rapidly burning through a thick joint and making my addled way inside the museum.

Aesthetically speaking, the Geffen Contemporary isn’t much to look at. Though designed by Frank Gehry, who has designed some staggeringly beautiful buildings throughout Los Angeles and the world, the site still feels like what it originally was intended to be: a police garage. Immediately, after entering the building, I felt the watchful eyes of the Gestapo-like museum security force scrolling all over me. I told myself, be cool, it’s just the paranoia. But as usual, I was right (more on this later).

Within seconds, I realized that this exhibit caters to two types of people: pretentious museum and contemporary art snobs who will inevitably find it edgy due to the subject matter. These types will have very little experience with the actual states produced by intake of hallucinogens or if they have any prior drug usage in their past, the last time they got high was sometime during Nixon’s second term. The other people this exhibit would cater to were stoners with very little knowledge of anything remotely artistic, save for the movie “Half Baked,” which I will defend to the death of me as a work of true comedic excellence.

As usual, I fit neither categorization and found myself quickly wanting to throw rocks at some of the exhibits (if only I hadn’t left them behind in my cave). In particular, Roxy Paine's “Psilocybe Cubensis Field” stood out as one of the most inane things I’ve ever seen in a museum. Intended to be a simulation of 2,200 "magic" mushrooms installed as if they are growing out of the gallery floor, I’m not sure exactly what deeper message this artist was trying to present. But if you’re out there Roxy Paine, here’s a tip that might help guide your future, gluing a bunch of clay mushrooms to a floor doesn’t count as art, it only counts for ensuring your eligibility to perform in the Special Olympics. Personally, I have the artistic talent of a drunken wallaby (and for the record many drunken wallabies have more talent), so if I’m capable of doing the same thing that a professional artist can, she really needs to have the word “con” placed in front of her name.

Then I came across “Super Nova,” by Takashi Murakami, which featured images of mushrooms in kaleidoscopic colors on a frieze-like surface, suggesting a psychedelic version of reality. Essentially, this seemed vaguely cool, but sadly, it wasn’t. To make it clear, pretty colors are nice and charming, but perhaps if the artist had any actual talent, he might’ve been able to come up with something more creative than making statues of mushrooms. I get it Takashi Murakami, mushrooms are cool. If you eat them, you see things. I’ve eaten them before and you know what, if I had eaten mushrooms the last place I’d want to be would be at an art exhibit, surrounded by grimacing security guards, pretentious Angelinos buzzing about, blathering about how “magnificent the artist’s range was,” Anyone who’s ever taken mushrooms can attest that the last place they want to be is around other people. And if you’re on ecstasy I’m willing to bet that most people would rather be a party, with loud music blaring, then trapped inside a claustrophobic warehouse in Little Tokyo. I’m just saying.

Right after passing the “Super Nova” exhibit, I decided to join a lengthy line of people patiently waiting to enter an unmarked room. Having no idea why I was waiting in line, I got someone to hold my place to check out what exactly was behind a door that a museum security guard kept opening and closing with the utmost secrecy.

After vainly attempting to see inside, to see nothing more than a room covered in white felt, I walked back to my spot in line. But apparently, I tread a trifle too close to the ceramic mushrooms in the “Super Nova,” exhibit, for a burly security guard who obviously had way too much time on his hands, rapidly blocked my path.

“Excuse me, sir,” the swine said in a gruff tone.

“Uh, yeah, excuse me. I’m just going back to my space in line.”

“Well, you’re getting a little too close to the exhibit.”

The “exhibit” was surrounded by a ring of tape, a ring that I was clearly a foot or two away from.

“What are you talking about?” I said with more than a little bit of attitude. “There’s the line. Here I am. I’m nowhere near that exhibit.”

“We’re worried you might damage it.”

“Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but I AM capable of the little known art of walking. I’m 24-year old. I know how to avoid statues!” I said, sarcasm dripping from my voice.

“Are you sure?”

“No, you ARE right. I AM incapable of walking on my hind legs. The truth is I’m actually partially retarded. That’s the only way I could explain going to a museum exhibit as stupid as this.”

He brushed me off and I continued my path back to my spot. But then he stepped over the tape ring that protected the exhibit, to again block my path.


To which I rolled my eyes and barely restrained myself from unleashing a string of profanities. There were children around.

Cue another 15 minutes of waiting to get inside the mystery room. Then I notice the same security guard talking to another security guard and pointing at me. Within two minutes, the new security guard comes over to and begins mouthing off to me.

“Sir, I just wanted to tell you that you must keep two feet away from the exhibit of all times.”

Now at this point, I was roughly 45 feet away from the exhibit in question and was getting extraordinarily irritated.

“Yeah…Did you not get the memo, I’m oh yeah, what’s that phrase, ‘not retarded’ and I’m clearly capable of not bumping into those mushrooms that look like the science project of a stoned 8th grader. So I think I’ll just be fine.”

“Well, we wanted to make sure that you don’t get too close.”

“I’m aware. Your little Neanderthal friend over there just informed me of that fact 10 minutes ago. You know I’ve been to a museum before. Once!!! (said as sarcastically as humanly possible). And I managed to get through it without breaking everything into pieces!!”

He walks away. Cue 15 more minutes of waiting before I get to the door, stare inside, and still see just a white room. Then yet another security guard instructs me and the person I was with to take off our shoes.

“Why?” I ask.

“Museum rules!”

Deeply disturbed at the nuisance of having to take off my shoes at a museum, I decide on principle to lose my place in line and continue bumbling around the museum.

With the exception of a series of oil paintings by an artist named Glenn Brown, every single section of the exhibit was painfully juvenile. No amount of drugs was able to salvage the long lines and the “art” completely devoid of any substance or meaning.

Finally, I get to the last main portion of the exhibit, where the stupidity of the exhibit takes on an entirely new dimension. I notice a trio of placid cow women carrying expensive handbags, ogling a table standing in the middle of a cavernous room. On the table stand a vase, a plate, a dish, and a glass. The women are examining the objects as though they constituted the Mona Lisa of kitchenware. I crept closer to see if there was something that I hadn’t noticed. For a full five minutes, I analyzed this mundane array of objects, before I realized that all they were looking at was the shadows that the objects cast off onto the table, meaning that some jackass artist had managed to convince a museum curator and thousands of people that by placing a series of tableware in a way that produced shadows on a table, it was not only art it was breathtakingly new and avant-garde.

To make things worse, the only thing that this trio of hags could keep on repeating was the phrase: “That’s amazing!! That’s amazing!!”

At this point, I had to be forcibly restraining from screaming, “No, what’s amazing is that you’re actually dumb enough to think this is art. It’s a fucking dinner table, you morons. Buy a fucking clue!!” And they say that marijuana calms you down.

But it took two more things to fully drive me out of the museum’s doors (just 1 hour after entering). Next, I saw another serpentine line twisting its way across a room, so that two at a time, people could enter a sparkling egg-shaped spaceship with glittering mirrors placed inside of it. From the facial expressions of the people exiting this giant egg, you would’ve believed that they’d finally uncovered the secrets to life, rather than just having sat inside an egg shaped object that more resembled the interior of a prom limo with a rotating disco ball than a work of art.

But perhaps it was Francis Alÿs’s “Narcoturismo” that made me understand the full brunt of people’s lack of ability to separate true artists from no-talent ass clowns. This “exhibit” allegedly traced the experience of walking through various neighborhoods in Copenhagen, under the influence of a different narcotic substance each day on his visit, through an 8x10 inch framed typed text piece that matter-of-factly lists each of the drugs taken.

All this guy did was take seven drugs for seven days, type up a couple of sentences about what it felt like (barely legible sentences mind you), and frame them. Then he sold it to a museum for large sums of cash. Someone, I don’t care who, needs to be hung for allowing this type of large-scale fraud to persist. I don’t care who has to die, only that it occur in a public meeting place where I can throw heavy blunt objects at their decaying corpse, to fully mete out the punishment that they deserve. And not a moment too soon, I decided to run out the doors of the museum, into the smoky January twilight, hopefully never to return to the Geffen Contemporary for the rest of my life.

And if you’re keeping score, here’s how this lovely Saturday excursion ultimately turned out
Dollars Spent: $8
Hours Wasted: 2 (including driving time)
Time Spent in Line: 45 minutes
Security Guards Fought With: 2
Artists with Talent: 1
Artists Without Talent: 123 (give or take)
Brain Cells Lost: The majority of them.

Happy Monday Everyone!


At 8:01 PM, Blogger King of the One Liners said...

Peter funny.

At 4:56 PM, Blogger Passion of the Weiss said...

The double entendre bosom buddies is funny because of the word bosom

At 6:59 PM, Anonymous french good person matt a said...



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