Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Very First Artist to Display at MOCA

With the help of Ken Yas, whom I met through David Jove, and Robert Roll, a fixture on New Wave Theatre whom I introduced to David, I managed to borrow a camera and make a ten-minute home video called Contemporary Extemporary, which won first place in Video Review Magazine's contest for the best home video ever, the prize being a state of the art RCA home entertainment system (that turned out to be a prototype of a new system they never released to the public, making repairs impossible, but cool nevertheless.), plus an all-expenses paid trip to New York City to accept the award. The judges were Andrew Sarris, Molly Haskell, Jeffrey Lyons, Neal gabler, David Hajdu, and Glenn Kenney.

The accompanying article by Ron Goldberg read...

Although the judges agreed on the overall quality of the entries, picking specific winners took a little doing. However, after several lively rounds of debate and discussion, a clear victor was chosen for the Grand Prize.

It was Michael Dare's Contemporary Extemporary, an amusing and insightful poke at modern-art pretensions. Entered in the Real Life catagory, this tape takes us to the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), where a bemused Mr. Dare offers his two cents regarding MOCA's aesthetics. this tape has it all; technical bravado (one sequence is a handheld shot from a moving motorcycle), a brisk pace, quips and observations that kept us laughing and, finally, a theme our judges (and perhaps many of our readers) could strongly relate to: Just what is art?
Certainly Dare should have some idea. A journalist and photographer, he claims to be the first artist to show his work at MOCA. Unfortunately, his exhibit was, shall we say, not officially commissioned by the museum: "MOCA had sent out invitations to the press for its opening, but when I arrived, the walls were completely bare! Apparently, the first opening was meant to show off the building itself, but I said, 'This is an art museum. There should be art on the walls.!'"

Taking a do-it-yourself approach, Dare snuck his snapshots into the museum and pinned t hem to whatever wall space he could find. With literally no other work on display, his photos soon found a number of interested viewers, but when Dare returned from a quick trip to the rest room, he found that his photos had all been cleared away. Miffed but undaunted, Dare received another invitation from MOCA several months later, only this time the opening was for real. This opening gave Dare the impetus to make the videotape.

"The museum was allowing cameras inside," Dare explains. "So I called up a few friends, we pretended to be a film crew, and we made the tape." In the video, Dare gets his revenge on MOCA by putting up his snapshots yet again, this time in the MOCA men's room! Not bad for a first effort. Although Dare has a background with cameras, Contemporary Extemporary is his first venture into video production.