[de]-lusions of Grandeur is a cycle of performances by Liz Glynn focused on monumental artworks at LACMA. Last January, we kicked off the series with The Myth of Singularity (after Rodin), a weekend-long event for which Glynn made molds from the original sculptures on display at LACMA to later perform the casting and recombination to create a new group of figurative sculptures with a group of assistants. The second chapter of the cycle, taking place on Friday evening, focuses on the commissioning of a fountain/sculpture from Alexander Calder for the new LACMA campus in 1965.
For this new performance Liz conducted extensive research on the subject, interviewing curators and conservators and reading through the museum’s archives, catalogue essays, and newspapers articles published around the time the sculpture was installed. The result is an hour-long performance that carefully balances, as if it were a mobile sculpture in itself, all the voices that took and still take part in the process of commissioning, installing, conserving, and maintaining such a work in the campus of LACMA.
Aptly called The Myth of Getting It Right the First Time, the performance draws upon the form of a ballet mécanique accompanied by a spoken chorus. On the stage, three dancers represent the three sculptural elements of Three Quintains (Hello Girls) while art handlers—doubling roles later as the water jets of the fountain—keep re-positioning the sculpture on the stage and discussing its technical challenges.
For the spoken chorus, we enlisted six LACMA docents to read excerpts from the correspondence of the Art Museum Council, which commissioned the work back in the day; David, a colleague from Graphic Design, reads a few letters written by William Osmun, the Senior Curator who oversaw the entire process. Rumor has it that even the Director of Security at LACMA has a cameo appearance at the beginning of the play. Bill, the director of LACMA’s Sunday Live, reads many letters and notes from the always charming Alexander Calder, completing this sort of reenacted epistolary novel that tells many stories at once.
I want to share some photographs Liz and I took with our phones during rehearsals—there were many because we are, after all, busting that myth of getting things right at the first time.
José-Luis Blondet, associate curator, special initiatives