Saturday, July 19, 2008

Champagne III -- Between the Ozone and the Carpet of Lights

19 July 2008

I had a relatively quiet Bastille Day -- spent with, among others, L.A.'s Dopest and a small section of her posse at Il Buco and a few other pals at Vermont. But, after the fireworks of the week-end, I was ready to call it an early evening and dive back into (appropriately enough -- see below) War and Peace.

14 July 2008

That line below, of course, from the film, Boom, which was adapted by Tennessee Williams from his play, The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore. Flora ‘Sissy’ Goforth (Taylor), one of the ‘world’s richest women’ to inquiring writer/journalist/fortune-seeker or who-knows-what, Chris Flanders (Burton), who’s also known as an ‘angel of death’ because all the women he visits die soon after he leaves. Needless to say, Goforth/Taylor is not ‘going forth’, as she puts it, without one helluva fight. (I’ve gotta say, this is not a very good movie; but just writing those lines makes me want to see it again. What’s wrong with me? Frustrated Lautner-lust? PS – if the people involved with those Lautner house tours, including the hosts, wouldn’t mind, awol would love to come along – with Opera Buddy maybe? Or how about my Glam Gemini Genius collector pal (a/k/a, Marvellous (the Other) Marlene? I promise to be on my best behavior.)

By the way, before I skip on, what’s the deal with Lautner (in a zillion different texts I’ve come across recently – though not the catalog, which I haven’t seen yet) being referred to as a “little known” L.A. architect? Gee, that’s news to me. As compared to whom?? As far as I was aware, he’s been a fairly big name since I arrived on the scene here in Los Angeles some 20 years ago, at least in architectural circles. And of course, who could miss some of his more iconic houses from their many appearances in films and on broadcast television? Taschen of course now famously owns the famous Chemosphere house (ps – Benedikt, Angelika – perhaps we could have a chat up at the house about that book I should be writing for you. Big Kiss x 2.) (Oh no – am I beginning to sound like Edward (“Art Talk”) Goldman of KCRW? Please shoot me if that ever happens.)

Even before we got to the car, Opera Buddy was suddenly not feeling too well; and her dogs had to be walked before she could rest; so we parted at ACE. I had no sooner reached the elevator, though, when I was told they had stopped letting people up. I could understand that the galleries might be crowded (this was an ACE opening after all – which always attracts small cities of people, many of whom don’t ordinarily go to art openings), but it was before 10 p.m. and (as I was told initially) the opening didn’t officially begin until 8:00 p.m. Two hours would be a short time simply to take in this rather extensive and large-scale show – forget about the opening. But now I was told the opening was to close at 10 p.m. and no one would be admitted upstairs regardless how many came down. I almost gave up, but fortunately one of Doug’s lovely staffers came downstairs to rescue me. Security was heavy throughout the gallery, and I doubt I would have been able to make it beyond the first two galleries if not for the gallery staff and Pullen, herself, who, overheated and exhausted, was finally beginning to blow off steam and getting ready to go to the after-party at Luna Park.

As I indicated below, in part, the show is an outgrowth and extension of the Revolutionary Soldiers she presented through ACE at their photoLA booth in January. This was some of the strongest work seen at that fair – but what was interesting was how much darker some of these panels were, though, no differently from the brighter ones, also 3-layer Dura transparencies (as far as I am aware). Moving further into the galleries, though, we were suddently brought shockingly up to date – with close-up images of soldiers, some apparently wounded or languishing in various war-theatre settings – in bright vivid color. It only got stranger and more surreal as one moved through the cavernous galleries and as Pullen segued from wounded soldiers and battlefields to the weaponry itself, not excluding the microcosmic frontiers of warfare our brass were so apprehensive about in the lead-up to and initial invasion of Iraq. I’m talking about biological and chemical warefare. Transparencies of enlarged specimens of bacteria like anthrax glowed like surreal landscapes in their dark recessed spaces – subterranean, malevolent Miros – yet magnetic and compelling; dazzling in cerulean blues, cerises and glowing ambers. ACE was the perfect setting for a show – and it is a show – of this scale; but, no question about it, I’m going to have to re-visit it at a slightly more leisurely pace. There’s simply too much to see. I mean, this is almost a kind of surreal movie; and I had to wonder if this is a direction Pullen may be moving in. (She would not be alone, of course – consider Bruce Conner (may that genius rest in peace) or Julian Schnabel.) It is an enormous, almost visionary, undertaking of considerable historical as well as aesthetic sweep.

Pullen and her exhausted crew were already toasting with vodka shots before everyone was out of the gallery; and by the time she arrived at Luna Park, she was already coming apart a bit, with the release of what must have been an enormous burden of energy, angst and sheer physical tension from the exhausting ordeal of putting the show together and installing it that she had just come through. It was as if she had just come home from World War III and was overwhelmed by it all – the crushing agony of everything seen and done and the sudden emptiness of the safe place she suddenly found herself surrounded by. There were clearly a few issues to be addressed; but she was at that moment entirely unequipped to deal with them. After her triumph, she needed some reassurance; and I certainly hope she got it (and perhaps something to eat, too). There wasn’t too much I could add to the accolades besides, ‘Relax, Melanie – you won.'

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