“Entrance”: The Takeaway from MOCA Gala, An Artist’s Life Manifesto

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What could be more provocative than making a group of rich and famous people dressed for the red carpet cover up their finery with dumpy medical coats? That was the…

What could be more provocative than making a group of rich and famous people dressed for the red carpet cover up their finery with dumpy medical coats? That was the start of a MOCA fundraising party art directed by New York performance artist Marina Abramovic. To some it was misogynistic, to others it felt like 70s Manhattan repackaged (reinforced by a catwalk performance by Debbie Harry). To this writer, Bennett Stein, (aka,  the Good4NothingConnoisseur), it delivered a lesson on what makes great visual theater: 

Saturday night’s swank gala/alien abduction can be summed up in one word: “ENTRANCE.” No payoff on earth could’ve matched the thrills and chills of anticipation that highjacked the senses upon entering the banquet tent. First, you were greeted by medical staff gently but firmly sheathing each guest into a pristine white lab coat. Right there you felt hand selected for a top secret assignment to save the world; I started addressing everyone as ‘Herr Doctor.’ You felt important, erudite, relied upon for your expertise (in your chosen field).

Second, you stroll into a long tunnel shaped mostly black velvet, zero gravity space lab, an operating theatre inside a state-of-the-art future tech mothership; you could almost hear, “prepare to launch in T-minus Two-trillion Nano-secs.”  Third, you realize human skeletons are rotating atop each circular table; you wonder, wow, they missed Halloween by two weeks, no, we’re hear to perfect the human form, the human condition, maybe. 

Fourth, you are stunned to find there are naked women lying beneath each full-length skeleton, utterly and divinely naked.  Fifth, you suppose this is a 21st Century spin on the Mysteries of Eleusis, and cocktail nymphs are about to issue Jello shots of amanita muscaria tea, cue the fuzzed out sitar music. 

From this point hence nothing else mattered because your mind took things to the extreme, everyone was clearly jettisoned into vast galaxies of possibility, and inner fantastical space. I bump into Eli Broad, Governor Brown, bunches of movie stars, and the artistic director of the mission, performance artistMarina Abramovic.

And my mind goes, ‘sure this all figures, next I’ll be bumping into Albert Einstein, Jim Morrison, Quentin Crisp and Chief Sitting Bull.’ Oh, there goes Will Ferrell as Debbie Harry prowls the runway retro crooning Blondie earworms. It was impossible to tell what you were experiencing from what you were imagining, but it all made perfect sense. Hey there’s Cameron Silver in a smashing full body pink Avenger’s suit.

Everything is real, everything is dreamt. Everyone’s in the driver’s seat from this point on. Then you sit down to dinner and act polite when people engaged you in civil discourse about current apocalyptic events and gossip, you just nod politely as you stare at the living and breathing human woman head that is each table’s centerpiece. She bores holes into your head, stealing your secrets, as you await your next special assignment. The moral of the story — a great dinner party is all about the presentation, the set up, or, in other words, the ‘ENTRANCE.’