This past week artist Urs Fischer needed help making clay objects for his upcoming April 21 through August 19 MOCA show. The happening circulated around online all week and we were very intrigued by the idea of doing an all day clay play with Urs Fischer, featuring a catered lunch with his personal chef. We signed up with little expectations outside of making clay things for a few hours. What was the happening? An insane (in a good way) clay free for all loosely moderated by Team Urs. It also functioned as a very, very loose preview for the show as there doesn’t seem like that much more can go into it as almost the entire floor (and some walls) of the MOCA Geffen space is covered in clay creatures and the dust they give off as they age.
The event was attended by what felt like hundreds of people, only a small fraction of which were present from start to finish, from 10AM to 5PM. The day started with light refreshments at fruit table cloth covered tables and an explanation by Team Urs that you can literally make whatever you want and to use as much clay as possible. The only rule? Do not put any clay on the walls. They promised they would kick you out if you were caught wall claying. Other than that, you had to find some free floor and get to work. They then let the flood gates open and it was like Supermarket Sweep to find an empty plot of ground to make.
We did a light tour of the space to find room but found that literally everything was taken. As far as the work? There was no limit to what was being done. There was abstract shapemakings, very inappropriate penises and vaginas and boobs, pop cultural touchstones, new mythological oddities, and so much more: it was a wild safari of clay creatures. We found a spot on the upper level and set to make: Bobby planned to make a giant TFIB fox and I found a little plot of ground and started to roll clay (which led to making a giant cord of clay that goes from the upper level all the way to the bottom of Urs’ giant candle). Both of our projects took all day.
Until about 11:30AM, all the artists participating were super mellow and respectful of each other’s spaces and projects and what they were doing. As I slinked my piece out of the first room, a group of people working on a set of clay nesting dolls came and happily stomped all over my piece without any fucks given. Sure, the piece is on the ground and intended to be stepped on and all will be both unknown and temporary and dusty. That said, a little respect would have been nice–and this theme infiltrated the remainder of the day as parents and families and more came and stomped all over everyone’s pieces. It happens and we all shrugged it off with a “Whatever!”
The joy of this mania was that there was an overwhelming atmosphere of community. Everyone was making and admiring and celebrating getting a chance to do whatever they wanted creatively for a day–and for free. There were people from all walks of life and with all types of talent: it was a moment of beautiful community wrangling courtesy of MOCA. Who knew that Urs Fischer would have brought together so much of LA? We didn’t. Jeffrey Deitch and other MOCA leaders, creatives, and more showed up to participate in the fun, too. There was a Summer camp feeling as artists of all talent (including Urs) gathered around Deitch to make clay likenesses of his face. The hot dog and popcorn lunch was also the most delicious camp food we’ve ever had, too.
On the other side of this coin, there was a small faction of people (or school kids, really) who went batshit insane earlier in the week and threw clay all over the walls and made giant squirting dicks and wrote on walls and broke walls and more. There was a big sense of rebellion and lack of respect for the space. I wanted to tell a lot of people the old adage, “Would you do this in your Grandmother’s house? No? Well, don’t do that here.” This is also coming form the seventy year old curmudgeon who lives inside of my heart.
Urs is known for his space destructing pieces and the deconstruction of art institutions. His work with and for MOCA sees him breaking the Geffen space down to dust by way of enlisting the city’s inhabitants to build out their wildest dreams and then, slowly, watch them decay into a dust pile as they dry and age over time. By the time the show’s August 19 closing date approaches, the Geffen may have blown away with the wind like the rest of the work. The show is going to be absolutely brilliant because of this–and the space will never be the same. Thinking about the “desintallation” of this show is already giving us headaches.