Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fantastic Food Show at LACMA

If you haven't seen EATLACMA yet, it's time to go.  The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is currently showing an incredible exhibition by Fallen Fruit, a collaboration between David Burns, Matias Viegener and Austin Young, along with LACMA curator Michele Urton.  This show is great for many reasons, but mostly because it's so sneaky.  The works are all over the grounds and events occur over a year-long period.  Because they're scattered throughout the museum and mixed in with other collections, they kind of sneak up on you.  In a good way.  Sadly, the year of Fallen Fruit is ending on November 11th so you don't have much time left to see it.

I went with my family over the weekend and perhaps the best endorsement I can give the show is to say that my 4 year-old insisted on having her own copy of the exhibition flyer and used the "Public Fruit Wallpaper" as a map to guide us through the museum.  The wallpaper is a trellis-like pattern of mixed citrus fruit photographed in various stages of decomposition on a background that shifts from sky blue to golden yellow.  Sound crazy?  A bit, but it's also lovely.  I'd wallpaper a room with it in a heartbeat.  One wall of the exhibition in the Ahmanson Building is covered with it and it looks amazing.  And I can see why my daughter loves it, although I must admit it wasn't especially helpful as a map.  (Of course, there was a real map on the other side so we just snagged our own copy while pretending to let our daughter lead the way.)

Since seeing the show, my daughter has also used the "wallpaper" side of the flyer as a maze, a seat cushion, and a head-rest.  And she's been very territorial when she sees me looking at my copy.  When I'm not looking at the wallpaper (if for instance, I'm actually trying to read about related events) she tells me I'm doing it wrong and flips it over so I'm looking at the wallpaper again.  Hilarious.

The exhibition had two real stand-outs for me.  The first was The Fruit of LACMA, a collection of food-related paintings and photographs culled from the museum's permanent collection.  It was located just inside the door of the Ahmanson Building on the ground level, tucked into a corner on the right-hand side.  The works cover three walls of the space and are mounted salon-style, one on top of the other.  They're all by heavy-hitters.  And as I mentioned, the fourth wall is covered with the Public Fruit Wallpaper.  (I'd love to get the backstory on the source of the "public fruit" photographed for the wallpaper.  I'm sure it's a good one.)

The following is a  reconstructed transcript of my internal-and-external monologue as I tried to view the exhibition while being spun in a circle by my impatient daughter who wanted to go put her new "map" to use.  "Ooohhh... an Edward Weston... haven't seen the bananas before!  Wait... was that a Callis over there?  Oh, geez... could you slow down for a minute?  Lichtenstein still-life.  Check.  Ahhh.... Steichen.  Seriously, kid, you gotta see this.  THIS is an apple being blown up by a bullet.  Isn't that cool?!!  Mommy talks about that photo with her students!  Gotta remember to tell them it's here and they should see it in the flesh.  Yea, yea, we'll get going.  Where did you want to go next?..."

We separated for a while so I could look at a few things in peace, but on the way to reconnect, I discovered the charming and fragrant artist project "Promiscuous Production:  Breeding is Bittersweet" by The National Bitter Melon Council.  What I saw was a large arbor covered in melon vines, large enough to walk through and explore.  It smelled amazing and I couldn't wait to show it off to my family.  The National Bitter Melon Council tried, successfully, to breed a new kind of melon which had both sweet and bitter components .  There were countless melons hanging from the vines and each piece of hybrid fruit was lovingly protected in what seemed to be a black pantyhose sack.  (I'm sure there's a more graceful way to describe this, but that's as close as I can get.)  We had a great time running back and forth and playing hide and seek and it was a great end to our trip.

The best part of this exhibition is that it functions on many levels... kids' entertainment, a wake-up call for the senses (especially sight and smell), and an immersive experience for those who enjoy conceptual art.  I know there were also associated food events, but I'm sad to report that I missed the jam-making.  I'm hoping there will be more to eat during the "Let Them Eat LACM" on November 7th!