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LAX to LACMA

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Modest witness to

Levitated Mass

Thursday, 14 November

Los Angeles County Museum of Art | LACMA


with

Dr. Traci Speed Lindsey (Yay!)

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11/14: We managed to grab a seat together on the plane down to Michael Heizer‘s Levitated Mass exhibit, a permanent installation at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), where, during the exchange, Dr. Traci Speed Lindsey provided a fascinating account of her PhD dissertation on Bulgarian language verbs of motion.

A complicated theme rendered in plain language over a 35 minute flight, suggests, Bulgarian word formation, as a Slavic language, would be expected to focus on manner of motion, while Turkish and Romanian focus on path of motion. Yet, influenced by milieu – within a wider Balkan language family (Turkish, Romanian) Bulgarian verbs take on the particular form around which daily life is thought and lived.

We arrived. And we encountered a museum water docent — or more specifically, a water sommelier, Martin Riese, demonstrating his water menu prepared especially for the LACMA Ray’s and Stark Bar.

Martin Moving away from under the sun, we settled in and ordered dessert, a toffee pudding, presented here in triptych fashion, and began dipping in as we contemplated further the Heizer Rock.

Indoors, within the restaurant setting, we entertained theories about its meaning.

Could the Heizer boulder be a tribute to the neglected underclass of the modern city, that is, the granite foundation that supports infrastructure —  and raised in this instance from incidental character onto the pedestal of the main stage? In this way, could Heizer follow a central feature of epic performance by… well — let us quote directly from Vlada Petric, professor of film at Harvard U., who comments on this very same theme, via Andrei Tarkovsky‘s Andrei Rublev:
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“One of the essential features of epic structure of literature, movies or painting [and in our case earth moving], is that each character forms a center. If you concentrate on any one figure on Vittore Carpaccio’s paintings you begin to see with unmistakable clarity that everything else is mere context, background, built up as a kind of pedestal for this incidental character. Likewise, in almost of every episode of Andrei Rublev there is an incidental character raised to the pedestal with the protagonist acting almost as an incidental character” –

Speaking of incidental characters rising to the pedestal in plain view of the Heizer Rock — we ordered pasta:
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Incidental living in view of the Heizer Rock



We could not have been more impressed with the variations of incidental forms of living that pay daily tribute to the Heizer rock. Everywhere it seemed, there were characters acting heroically, albeit, incidentally, who pull themselves together partly from the fabulous water menu available at the fingertips of those lunching at Ray’s and Stark Bar.
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With the drama of the Heizer rock behind us, we entertained ourselves, relatively speaking, with what remains that were left available — mere art —  baubles and beads thrown in as after thoughts to our lofty aspiration – of living large through the protagonist of another.

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Contact Points around the Heizer Rock



Finally, we sought comfort in modest spaces of intimacy that surrounded our visit.
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Lasting Impression

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11/12 pre-visit preparation: The portrait of famed anthropologist Robert Heizer now hangs in the Anthropology Library at University of California, at Berkeley.

Dr. Heizer, professor at then newly established Department of Anthropology, UC Berkeley, wrote of the Indigenous peoples of North America. His publications on Kodiak Island petroglyphs (designs hewn in stone) drew my initial attention to his work. His son, Michael Heizer, artist of Levitated Mass, showing at LACMA, exposes a father-son bond through an intersect in rocks.

With swagger worthy of Treasure of Sierra Madre, the image of Heizer casts a halo of adventure.

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Old man Heizer once adorned the walls of the private Edward Gifford Room. The photograph was part of a time series display of anthropology professors serving the famed UC Berkeley, Department of Anthropology, founded by Alfred Kroeber (student of Franz Boaz, founder of the first anthropology department in the United States at Columbia University, New York City).

With removal from the privacy of the Gifford Room, the photographs have lost their sequential ordering based on linear time, but have gained new appreciation as public display based on an arrangement whose form remains a mystery.

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Notice, visible above, direct access to Heizer is discriminated by the glare of florescent light – obscuring the idea-image, so dramatic in private. From a desire to reproduce what is no longer possible in lived experience, I cut-pasted an image of the Man into the series, thereby, if not reestablishing time sequence, at least rendering the man-image legible:

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A vignette from Dr. Nelson Graburn, who entered the Department at the time of Heizer’s departure: Heizer’s dreamed of publishing more articles than Kroeber: “And he did, then he died.”

The image of Heizer can be found inside the George and Mary Foster Library, located in the Department of Anthropology, Alfred E. Kroeber Hall, University of California, Berkeley.

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