The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA), celebrated its 32year history as one of the world’s leading contemporary art institutions on Saturday, November 12, 2011, with An Artist’s Life Manifesto, a special gala envisioned by renowned performance artist Marina Abramović who served as this year’s gala artistic director.
The gala, attended by more than 750 guests, raised $2.5 million for the museum, and began at MOCA Grand Avenue with red carpet arrivals of Hollywood celebrities including Pamela Anderson, Ellen Barkin, Minnie Driver, Kirsten Dunst, Lisa Edelstein, Will Ferrell, Miranda July, Jaime King, Jonny Lee Miller, Rose McGowan, Nicole Richie, Gwen Stefani, Tilda Swinton, and Dita Von Teese; California Governor Jerry Brown and Los Angeles Mayor and MOCA Ex Officio Trustee Antonio Villaraigosa; art world luminaries from Los Angeles, New York and beyond; fashion icons; and renowned Los Angeles artists including Doug Aitken, John Baldessari, Mark Bradford, Shepard Fairey, and Ed Ruscha.
An Artist’s Life Manifesto continued in the main tent, decorated in black box fashion with mirrors and dark walls, a concept and design realized by Carleen Cappelletti, president of Bounce-AEG, who also produced the event. Inside the tent, everyone wore lab coats over their evening attire—a detail of Abramović’s setting for artistic experimentation. Performers were stationed under black-cloaked dinner tables as live centerpieces, their heads popping out from holes cut into the tables and slowly rotating around. The centerpieces engaged in non-verbal exchanges with guests who chose to interact with them, meeting the gazes of the diners as they ate and drank. Other guests sat down to a reenactment of Abramović’s Nude with Skeleton (2002, 2005, 2010) work in which female performers were situated under skeletons on rotating platforms at the center of round dinner tables.
After the Artist’s Manifesto, guests continued to engage with the performers as they dined on their first course of what Abramović called The Survival MOCA Dinner, consisting of three plated courses prepared by Along Came Mary: Super Human Cocktails provided by Purity Vodka and Rauschenberg Spirit Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon from Summerfield Wines accompanied the first course, the John Cage Symphony, a tower of frisée, endive, quinoa, tomato concasse and dates, with roasted shallot vinaigrette and topped with crispy onions, along with various amuse bouches and assortment of breads. The main course, the De Kooning Power Mix, was a roasted filet of beef, sautéed kale and mushrooms, baked root vegetables, roasted artichokes with a rouille, demi glace sauce. A vegetarian and fresh fish dish were also available.
While guests dined, the pallbearers returned to the stage carrying a cloaked Deborah Harry, who emerged in white lab coat, which she promptly stripped off to reveal a tight blood-red cocktail dress. Harry treated guests to a rousing performance of “China Shoes,” “Heart of Glass,” “One Way or Another,” “What I Heard,” and “Mother,” bringing the crowd to its feet. Guests danced around the stage, relishing an intimate, once-in-a-lifetime experience with the pop icon and legend.
Two performers then took over, cutting apart their edible body parts to serve gala guests, who enjoyed the Kreëmart creation along with illy coffee, and Andy Warhol Addictions—pear tarte tatin, brown-sugar- cane wafers, chocolate-espresso molten cakes, pecan bites, and roasted red grapes.
|As guests fanned out into downtown L.A. and beyond, lab coats still on or in hand, it was clear that all in attendance had experienced a new kind of gala, which transformed them from spectators into participants in an interactive performance art piece.|