05 July, 2010

5 July - James Franco in Los Angeles

LAUNCHPROJECTS - I am not in the habit of blogging events we do not attend, but following my interaction with James Franco last week I had to mention his latest performance on Thursday at LA MOCA.

SOAP MOCA was the live taping of a special episode of ABC’s General Hospital on the occasion of the return of character Franco the artist, played by artist and actor James Franco. From MOCA's press release: In this special episode, Franco, James Franco’s character from General Hospital, will be having an exhibition at MOCA Pacific Design Center, during which time Jeffrey Deitch, the new director of MOCA, and the characters from Port Charles from General Hospital wil be making their West Coast debut. “Soap at MOCA is an attempt to both blur and define the lines between different disciplines, between life and art, between art and popular culture, and between representations of the self as both performative character and as non-performative self,” commented James Franco.

As the event was described by Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer and Jeff Hassay on the
ArtForum Diary "The art crowd's barely concealed confusion and skepticism were palpable in the frequency of raised eyebrows, worried looks, and sarcastic offhand remarks mumbled through sighs. Since the LA art community has been anticipating Deitch's arrival at the helm of the city's preeminent contemporary art institution with a fair dose of apprehension, "Soap at MoCA" was watched closely and cautiously as his first act in office. (Several invitees purportedly chose not to come in protest of spectacle.)

Trepidations aside, the exhilarating highlight of the night was the stunningly simple but gasp-worthy stunt in which first-time stuntman and Franco body double Brad Standley threw himself over the side of the three-story building to his presumptive death below. For one climactic moment, the three divergent spectator groups merged, boundaries dissolved, and suspicions relaxed; extras, artists, and soapies all looked up together as one seriously captivated audience. "Don't kill me! I know where the baby is!" Franco exclaimed dramatically at one point during the shooting. Interrupting the hushed silence that followed, someone near the fifty-foot projection of his laughing face could be heard asking, "Is this art?" The moment was so perfect and perfectly ridiculous that it didn't even matter whether it was or wasn't, but if we had to answer, we'd say yes, because who could say no to that face?"

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