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Machine Project takes over LACMA for a day

November 13, 2008 |  2:52 pm

Corey Fogel rehearses in a LACMA elevatorWhat happens when an avant-garde gallery takes control of a venerable arts institution?

We'll find out on Saturday, when the Echo Park-based Machine Project gallery will put on the large-scale project "A Field Guide to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art by Machine Project," which incorporates original artwork by about 30 artists and the participation of nearly 250 friends, associates and contributors.

Curated by Machine founder Mark Allen, in collaboration with LACMA chief curator of photography Charlotte Cotton, the daylong exhibit will act as an intervention of sorts: Each artist will create a work that will actively engage either a specific display or a little-known aspect of the museum. All eight pavilions on LACMA’s campus will be utilized, and each artwork will be placed -- and often performed -- in everything from galleries to parking lots. But as Cotton says, “While there is an institutional critique at play here, it’s not a critique in the negative sense of the word. It’s more of an attempt to celebrate the museum and see it in a new way.”

Indeed, there’s a genuine sense of play in Machine Project’s work, which includes a head-spinning array of seemingly spontaneous collaborations. There will be, for instance, musicians stationed in elevators, who will react to musicians playing in nearby galleries. There will also be an interactive murder mystery centered around a young girl who appears to have met her demise at the hands of LACMA’s Alexander Calder sculpture.

But Machine Project’s mission is a bit more serious than it might appear at first glance, and I'll explore that in my story next week.   

-- Paul Young

Photo of musician Corey Fogel: Scott Mayoral