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Art meets sports at MOCA

February 23, 2009 |  5:00 pm

Emptiness is form The Museum of Contemporary Art is still digging itself out of a financial disaster, but the show goes on. A major exhibition of Dan Graham's work recently opened to critical acclaim, and the next installment of "Engagement Party" is coming soon.

"Engagement Party"? It's a three-year project funded by the James Irvine Foundation that brings imaginative artist collectives to MOCA. During their periods of residency, the groups stage events that shake up conventional notions of museums and their collections. Naturally, museum officials hope the activities will broaden MOCA's audience.

A group called Finishing School launched the project last year by exploring President Bush's executive orders, the pharmaceutical industry and military communications systems. This year, Knifeandfork -- a collective founded by artists Brian House and Sue Huang -- is planning to transform MOCA's Grand Avenue building into a sports venue. Well, sort of -- and only on three Thursday evenings.

At the first event, "Emptiness and Form (Golf and Donuts)" on March 5, visitors will be invited to play miniature golf on a course that winds through the museum and surrounding spaces. Those who accept will participate in a conceptual art piece that's all about filling holes. The artists, who liken playing golf to making doughnuts, compare golf balls that land in holes to dough balls that turn into tasty tidbits known as doughnut holes. A real doughnut maker, Deanna Moody, who owns Dee's Bakery and Donuts in downtown Los Angeles, will be on site -- and at work -- during the evening. Every time a ball goes into a hole on the course, she will make doughnuts. (UPDATE: An earlier version of this post identified Deanna Moody's business as Dee's Donuts of Echo Park.)

The second production, "Trying the Hand of God" on April 2, will give guests an opportunity to play the role of Diego Maradona, the Argentine soccer star who scored a controversial "Hand of God" goal against England in the 1986 World Cup. "MOCA Grand Prix" on May 7 will wrap up the series by allowing "Party"-goers to race remote-control cars through the museum's galleries. The diminutive cars will be equipped with video cameras aimed at artworks on display. Spectators can watch the "drive-by" art show on a big screen to be installed on MOCA's Sculpture Plaza.

-- Suzanne Muchnic

Photo: Knifeandfork