Friday, January 13, 2006

mayne pain

a (very) brief recap of wed's LACE "conversation" between Thom Mayne and Vito Acconci. first, LACE engaged in some false advertising by calling the event "in conversation" since there was little interaction between the two men. although I will admit, we left about 10 minutes into the q&a. after listening to nearly two hours of lecture, we called it quits. particularly since on the rare occasion mayne and acconci did address each other, they seemed to forget they had mics in front of them, and turned away from them, engaging (ironically enough) in a private tête - à - tête about the nature of public spaces. we had been hoping for a knock down, drag out fight. or maybe just a little hair pulling and nail scratching. is that too much to ask?

acconci, now in his 60s, was introduced as a poet, performance and conceptual artist, as well as an architect. and the moderator, by way of introduction, of course mentioned his most famous work, Seedbed, in which he masturbated under his gallery's ramp while broadcasting his innermost fantasies about gallery visitors as they walked above him. so he's a man who's not afraid of confrontation. but his lecture seemed somewhat...tame? his transition into architecture seems entirely natural. he began to think about the nature of public spaces as a result of his work in galleries, which struck him as far from "public." he clearly maintains a sense of humor about his work and his legacy as an artist, but I was disappointed that the bulk of his presentation focused on the dozen or so operations his firm has engaged in their built (and unbuilt) projects. (push-and-pull, "skins," etc). some of it just struck us as, well, a little too first year arch student. but some of it was just downright beautiful:

he also (at least I think it was acconci - should have taken notes) mentioned that he wanted to investigate if architecture must always be totalitarian in nature. I wish he had pursued that line of thinking a little more. my knee-jerk reaction is, of course it is. to paraphrase bob mcchesney, there are essentially four ways to regulate and control human behavior: markets, culture, law and the built environment. (obviously they arent mutually exclusive). try to prove mcchesney wrong, vito. please.

john and I had seen mayne speak at ucla last year so much of his presentation was a retread of that lecture. yet he seemed a little more humble this go-round. the ucla presentation was just a few weeks after he had been awarded the pritzker, so perhaps his cockiness was justified. he was a little unfocused, however. sort of just breezed thru morphosis' recent projects. which brings me to my biggest gripe:

why the fuck didn't they talk about los angeles?

mayne has until recently been primarily a local architect. acconci was involved in the lear center/latimes' grand intervention project, so both are stakeholders in downtown's development. acconci and mayne, both highly conceptual artists, certainly have some thoughts on Not a Cornfield, on Grand Ave, on LA Live - and that's just downtown. so that was the biggest disappointment. enough to make us drown our sorrows in drinks at musso and frank's before the lecture was even over.


At 7:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

..Have you been to Mayne's office..? seen the Awful paintings on walls ?? i used to be fascinated by this guy , after visiting his office- though the freindly ambiance- i was disappointed.
..and after reading what you've posted here.No , hes not amony my faves anymore..
.. Why are you in LA , anyway..??


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