I see a convergence of sorts. It might be a coincidence but, then again, I think not. The wheels of “Pacific Standard Time”, the Getty’s juggernaut architectural assault on and about Los Angeles, have been turning for what seems like months now with exhibit after exhibit and symposium after symposium.
Is it just me or is “Pacific Standard Time” fatigue setting in? I’m not complaining. It gives me a lot of material to write about so I don’t have to just make stuff up. It corresponds with something called history, after all. But where is the self-reflexive, self-effacing, ha-haExit Through the Gift Shop wink about it all? It’s all so damn serious, isn’t it? It seems cooked up to be so monumental and deterministic. So Grand Narrative from the get-go, right out of the institutional blocks, like a marketing campaign.
Or is it just that this is the cynical cultural milieu mega-programs like this end up getting dumped into and therefore end up nearly submerged, struggling for an authentic breath of fresh air above the surface of the media miasma?
I think “Pacific Standard Time” is trying to unearth things, to make the invisible more visible. It has good intentions. But its bigness ends up crescendoing down to a relatively narrow bandwidth. How could it not? It was doomed to this from its inception. It’s like Kurasawa’s Ran. It will all end in captivating and spectacular ruin in the various books that are sure to emerge post-exhibition.
As we learned from the “Confederacy of Heretics” show at SCI-Arc, for example, the proper response was to strive for a counter-narrative. As “Heretics” presents it, a loud and raucous band of punks from LA’s gritty urban beach rose up to dismantle the establishment. Ironically, this legacy is now taken up by the big culture of “Pacific Standard Time”.
The “Heretics” show left the station way back in March and will at last arrive mid-June with a two-day symposium. And by two days they mean almost two full days of symposing. What are they going to sympose about for two days? That, one can imagine, will be left up to the panelists and moderated roundtables that, we are told, promise “lively discussions”.
A bunch of U Haul trucks in a downtown parking may have just had the discussion. When the roll-up doors of those trucks went up on June 2 on that hot parking lot adjacent MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary “Pacific Standard Time” found its unexpected voice and quite possibly its real reason for existing. Now, it can all end.
Here, then, similar to the “heretics” of 1979, was an action in reaction to the dominant discourse. And here, again, it was recorded in the LA Times, although with less critical much ado, less of a splash in terms of ideological positioning. But, nonetheless, here was the voice of the counter-narrative, the “kids” (could mean anyone under 50 in architecture), calling the mission On the Road, with limited resources, adjunct status, no health insurance, friends and parents as clients, etc.
Like Jack Kerouac and friends—I assume the reference was not accidental—they pulled themselves together and headed out as a collective improvisation in progress, with an informal T.B.D. sensibility and a thrown-up webpage underscoring it all. Future ambitions remain unarticulated, but it would be great if they backed the trucks up and threw the doors open to the official opening of MOCA’s “A New Sculpturalism”, the part of “Pacific Standard Time” that nods toward the future, which opens, after much back and forth, on June 16.
To be honest, when the trucks first threw their doors open, I didn’t think much of it. Well, I did think, Cool! But I didn’t allocate my precious weekend time to reflect on it. Moreover, this being LA, there was no way I was going to get in the car and drive all the way downtown just for that. But there it was. It existed and I was glad for that. I’m guessing the “heretics” would be pleased. Next time they should bring it back to Venice Beach.