2024 MOCA Gala showcases the future of art and music together

The MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) Gala has been a highlight of Los Angeles social events for years. This annual event brings together visual artists, actors, musicians and more (this year’s event features Shepherd Fairey, Keanu Reeves, for example) and is a perfect example of how different arts can inspire each other.

This year’s gala was a wonderful evening with a wonderful performance by St. Vincent under the creative direction of sculptor Max Hooper Schneider. It loftily showcases the vision of MOCA executive director Johanna Burton, who said her goal is to provide artists with the tools to express themselves. While some people say that, Schneider confirms that this is indeed the case.

“Johanna is a dear comrade at this point. She was very supportive and tried her best throughout the process to make sure it was nourishing and nurturing for my practice. It was what it was,” Schneider told me.

Free to express his vision, Snyder created a future world that was, in Burton’s words, as dystopian and utopian as it was mesmerizing, unforgettable, and compelling.

“My sculptures are events. I think of them as non-static in certain situations. I’ve always said that I see them as motivating conditions without a clock. But there is something that visually entices or stimulates your body to get you caught up in it. ,”He said. “Then you start completing the story, which activates thinking. So during the party, you basically see different iterations and mutations of the expressions that I practice. These are environmental anomalies that, if I succeed, make The people were ecstatic and it took them to a place they didn’t expect.

These include Schneider’s stunning staging for St. Vincent’s performance. For Burton, she hopes to continue the collaboration between music and art at MOCA. I spoke with her about the merging of the two worlds and why this combination is important for museums and supporting artists.

Steve Baltin: How long have you been working at MOCA?

Johanna Burton: I’ve been here almost two and a half years. My third soirée, my first was less than six months after I arrived. I jumped right in and it felt good. I was lucky because it was a time when we were coming out of COVID and people were so eager to get back together. It’s a little scary, but that feeling is heightened when people are really excited, especially when it’s happening outside, which a lot of things are. So it’s actually a really good way to get into some museum time.

Baltin: You learn more with every experience. So, what was your purpose in putting this together?

Burton: I’m really proud of the other things we’ve done, but believe it or not, the great thing about this one is that, as you probably know, we’re looking ahead to our fiftieth anniversary. What I spend a lot of time thinking about is not nostalgic museum history, but what we did and what we continue to do differently. We’ve always placed a strong emphasis on letting artists take the lead, and what’s really special about this evening is that MOCA has given control to artists for creative direction in the past. But it’s been a while since this happened in a super, deep way. I want to get back to that model, but also think about what a moment like today, coming out of COVID, coming out of all the social changes, would be like. So going to Max Hooper Schneider and St. Vincent felt like a natural return to the MOCA tradition, but in a fresh way. Max is the perfect blend of dystopia and utopia, a meditation on apocalypse and radical futures. He was a museum-supported artist, he was a super Los Angeles artist, even though he had an international career, and he had this guy who became his friend and was a big supporter of the museum. I’ve known him since I got here. I just intuitively felt his love for the museum, which predates my coming here, and the museum’s support of him through various endeavors, and he was a great person to talk to. When I asked him to be the creative director, he immediately agreed. “I’m not going to decorate this event with decorations,” he said. “It’s really an experience and an art installation. It started with this idea of ​​near-destruction, like a meteor hitting the earth in front of Geffen, almost destroying it.” It knocks it over. And then it fills up and becomes this bioluminescent wishing well. It’s dystopian, very sci-fi, and very lush and fun. I see St. Vincent in that way. So excited about this new album and I couldn’t believe that Annie was willing to do this when she released it and Max was ecstatic when we told him we were thinking of her.

Baltin: One of the most exciting things about the music scene right now is how open everything is. Do you think this is also true in the arts?

Burton: I’m glad you mentioned cross-pollination. As you know, MOCA has always been super interdisciplinary, which is something I would rather bring back. I would love it if musical artists considered this platform, and I hope that’s why St. Vincent plays for us, to have a different type of audience experience. Maybe the grass is always greener. Sometimes I observe more of the space with the musicians and sometimes it feels freer. But, I actually think that if you delve deeper into the art world, beyond the most obvious platforms of galleries and other things, people are doing incredibly adventurous work, and they’re doing it in places you wouldn’t expect. I find that we can even offer the Geffen Space because it’s so unique, it’s a place where we can bring together artists who are really in conversation but don’t often get together. Even though Max and Annie aren’t working together, this will be a collaboration. She will perform on a stage he has produced. I think it’s going to be really fun, and one of my goals in this area, not just at the gala but across the institution, is to allow that kind of interaction to happen. I think creating a space for people to start making that happen is really exciting for me. When Geffen first opened, we had dance shows, we had architecture, design and fashion shows. I want to get back to some hybridity. That’s where we’re going because that’s what the artist had in mind. This is something we have to catch up on at the museum. Museums have been doing this, but not enough.

Baltin: How do you see St. Vincent’s role in this model?

Burton: She’s someone that I’ve admired for a long time, and I know she’s worked with visual artists like Alex Da Corte, and I think she’s a great addition to her new album (“Broken Man”). ”) made the video and is a friend and an amazing artist. So, I think if we can leverage that more, it’ll expand our audience as well, which is something I’m really excited about.

Baltin: Who would be an ideal musician to collaborate with? Did you feel like you could do something special with that piece, which blended music and visuals?

Burton: MOCA has a history of working with artists as they progress. For example, Lady Gaga performed at one of our galas when she was becoming Gaga. I just saw John Legend perform last night and he performed at one of our galas. But I think we’re not just talking about great talent, but a turning point in aesthetics and a dialogue between fine art and music. I can think of a lot of artists, but I’m curious about what they’re trying to do. As a museum director and when I’m a curator, I like to give artists an opportunity to do things they can’t do elsewhere. I like to offer something that makes people think, “I can only do this at MOCA. So I need to do this at MOCA. That’s fun for me.”

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