Controversy reigns at MOCA Gala

Deborah Harry arrives at the 2011 LA MOCA Gala

Last week choreographer Yvonne Rainer sent an open letter to LA MOCA Director Jeffrey Deitch criticising the working conditions of the LA MOCA Gala’s performers or ‘centrepieces’ – some of whom were required to spend three hours with their heads protruding from tabletops, whilst slowly rotating on lazy susans (they were offered $150 and a one-year MOCA membership for their troubles).  And now Gala Artistic Director Marina Abramovic and her co-performer Deborah Harry have come under fire for their performance at last night’s event.

Harry butchers her cake-y likeness as Abramovic looks on

After being carried on stage wrapped in a shroud of plastic, Harry belted out ‘Heart of Glass’ before she and Abramovic proceeded to butcher naked life-size sculptures of themselves with carving knives. Their eviscera (which was in fact red velvet cake) was then fed to dinner guests by a harem of shirtless men.  But not all of the attendees were amused, with Dita Von Teese tweeting “‘This must be art, because it sure ain’t entertainment” and others chanting  ‘Violence Against Women!’.

The rotating head of Ryan Trecartin

If guests planned on sharing their cake with the centrepieces they had another thing coming, following written instructions from the management that ‘no touching, feeding, offering drink or disrespecting the centrepiece’ was to take place.  But Ryan Trecartin (above) took matters into his own hands and got right into the thick of it, indulging in a little rotation himself.

Controversy reigns at MOCA Gala

Deborah Harry at MOCA

LA MOCA Director Jeffrey Deitch has announced that Deborah Harry will be peforming at the 2011 LA MOCA Gala, An Artist’s Life Manifesto.  Harry’s no stranger to MOCA, her spray painted portrait by Lee Quinones was recently exhibited alongside her music video for ‘Rapture’ – above (featuring Basquiat as DJ no less) as part of the MOCA exhibition Art in The Streets.

For An Artist’s Life Manifesto, Harry will work in direct collaboration with the event’s guest-Artistic Director Marina Abramovic, it’s the first time the pair have worked together.   And an evening with these two doesn’t come cheap – individual tickets to this month’s Gala cost between US$2,500 and $10,000.

Deborah Harry at MOCA

Abramovic to Direct LA MOCA Gala

Lady Gaga plays a piano designed by Damien Hirst at the 2009 LA MOCA Gala

Serbian performance artist Marina Abramović  has been appointed the Artistic Director of the 2011 Gala at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.  She is responsible for programming an evening of music and performance that will feature an as yet undisclosed ‘guest musician’.  Given that former AD Doug Aitken roped in Beck and Devendra Banhart last year and Francesco Vezzoli got Gaga to jam on a piano painted by Damien Hirst the year before, I’m guessing it’s going to be HUGE.

Abramovic to Direct LA MOCA Gala