White Light, Hot Chocolate
Doug Aitken's Happening at the Schindler House/MAK Center this past Saturday was a very elegant, civilized affair…that is, until musician Ariel Pink (an LA Weekly cover boy, no less) started humping and possibly maiming a mummified cutie onstage, rubbing his chocolate smeared limbs all over her bandages. Definitely more eating-the- brown-acid than exploding plastic inevitable, the performance probably wasn't what the guests had in mind when they showed up to the venerable modernist institution for an open-air celebration of Aitken's new book, Broken Screen. But that was just fine with the host, who stood at the front of the stage grinning throughout, even when a misty rain started to fall. I could not hum you an Ariel Pink tune if you put a gun to my head – actually, what I remember most distinctly is the smell of chocolate emanating from his body - but as far as atonal cacophonies go it was pretty damn entertaining. The performance was the kooky culmination of an event whose purpose was to bring Broken Screen's theme – how non-linear narratives serve and reflect the experience of artists in the 21st century – out of the academic realm and into the party realm.The vibrant crowd (I was glad to see the adorable Devendra Banhart milling about) was made that much prettier by soaring illuminated bamboo, watery projections in the foliage, beats from DJ Tim Sweeney, and nice fruity cocktails. In the courtyards, outdoor fireplaces blazed, and people lounged on bouncy white rubber tubes. In fact, due to the ultra coziness of the setting and the property's labyrinthine qualities (it's said that Rudolf Schindler and his ex-wife both lived at the house for several decades but communicated only via post), I completely missed the panel discussion with Kenneth Anger (John Baldessari and Andrea Zittel also participated in panels). Luckily I don't have to kick myself too hard because there's a great conversation between him and Doug in Broken Screen. A film maker best known for Scorpio Rising (1964), a fetishistic biker daddy hallucination set to sugary pop songs like "Leader of the Pack," Anger talks with Aitken about mythology and dreams, working alone, and how he could never be a "fucking whore" for MTV, despite practically inventing the music video form. Their interview closes with Anger reflecting that if he had to do it all again he doesn't know if he would choose to be "such a maverick and a loner." He adds, "Life doesn't get any easier." It's kind of heartbreaking, coming from an artistic visionary who's approaching 80 years of age. But it must have felt gratifying to be celebrated at the Schindler House in "Hollywood Babylon" itself, the town where he grew up (he was a child movie actor) and whose mythology he helped to create. Apparently Anger now lives in my hood, Echo Park; maybe one day I'll run into him and invite him over for tea – or better yet, hot chocolate.