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Artnet News
May 27, 2010 

Rainn Wilson, known for his role as Dwight on NBC’s The Office, and for being one of the most followed celebrities on Twitter, is bringing some of his social media cachet to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Wilson is set to take over LACMA’s Twitter feed to present a project titled "I Hate LACMA," offering his personal list of "many, many reasons why never to go to LACMA."

The stunt is part of a broader initiative for the museum, dubbed Cell Phone Stories and overseen by artist Steve Fagin, who recruited Wilson along with a raft of writers, fashion designers, artist and critics to produce a "series of narratives and essays circulated exclusively via mobile phone technology." The project launches on May 29 and goes through Sept. 6, 2010. Other highlights:

* Imagining LACMA by author Barry Yourgrau, asking the question, "How might one daydream about a museum they have never attended?" Yourgrau, it seems, provided the inspiration for Fagin’s project, introducing him to the world of keitai shosetsu, text-based cell phone narratives that are popular with teenagers in Japan.

* LACMA a la Mode by fashion designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy of the label Rodarte, who promise to "create sketches inspired by works from LACMA‘s collection."

* LACMA Live, which promises to involve users in a narrative with performance artist Rich Bott, who will be solving a fictional art crime based on a story by Charles Willeford.

* Only for Dummies, for which Fagin himself will take on the alter ego of a ventriloquist dummy who will tour LACMA, "creating a story equal parts Flaubert and Facebook."

There’s quite a bit more. Those who are interested in getting text messages relating to Cell Phone Stories can sign up by texting "LACMA" to 67553.

"We have a business plan that is not working." So said Seattle Art Museum director Derrick Cartwright yesterday, as he announced that the institution was cutting seven percent of its staff, mandating 10 percent pay cuts for top managers and planning to go dark from Jan. 31-Feb. 13, 2011, all in an effort to plug a potential $2 million budget deficit. Part of the shortfall comes from the loss of rental income from Washington Mutual, the giant thrift that collapsed in 2008, and which had entered into a partnership with SAM when the museum expanded into new headquarters in 2006.

In addition, Cartwright said that contributions are also down, and attendance has been "soft" (though the museum’s current show of Kurt Cobain-themed art seems to have perked things up). "Even some of our longtime supporters are saying they need to see evidence of the stability of the institution, and they are waiting to see us perform to balanced budgets," Cartwright explained. All in all, the current cuts save $1 million. SAM’s board of trustees has agreed to absorb half of the projected shortfall.

Can you believe that America Online is a quarter-century old? Did you even know it was still around? The once-dominant internet giant turned 25 last night with an insanely packed gala party at the New Museum, announcing a series of initiatives to help restore to it the luster of innovation -- with the help of the art world. To wit, AOL has tapped photorealist painter Chuck Close to create "exclusive online content" for the firm, as part of what it is dubbing its "Project on Creativity." Some small hint about what this might mean is given by the new work by Close, glimpsible amid the swarms at the New Museum, which is essentially large photo portraits of the Dalai Lama, Gus Van Sant, Claire Danes and other "creative leaders" (these are to be used in an upcoming AOL "media campaign" -- so look for them on a bus shelter near you).

A variety of other attempts to court what the admen call the "creative community" are on tap as well. There is a scholarship program, dubbed "25 for 25" and offering 25 $25,000 scholarships to journalists, artists, illustrators, chefs, producers, videographers and editors; a conference on "creativity and technology" in New York City later this year; and something called the "2nd Collection," which commissioned 41 artists from around the world to create art to be featured on AOL’s homepage, and at the new website

Can America Online use artists to rise to glory again? One person who apparently thinks so is Chuck Close: "I believe this kind of thinking will help them reemerge as the pioneering American brand known throughout the world," the artist is quoted as saying in a press release.

Think the Museum of Modern Art’s current retrospective of Marina Abramovic (closing this weekend) is too tame by half to respect the wild spirit of the performer? Well, then check out "The Artist is Absent" this weekend, May 29, 2010, at Manhattan’s 25CPW Gallery. Curated by Daniel Lang/Levitsky, Ariel Speedwagon and Quito Ziegler, the spectacle promises an "alternative" restaging of Abramovic’s seminal performance art works, one rooted in the "queer, transgender and BDSM/leather/kink communities." The goal is to restore the original sense of "public vulnerability" encoded in the pieces -- though Ziegler notes that a planned "participatory" version of Imponderabilia (the piece that originally had art lovers squeeze through a doorway framed by the nude bodies of Abramovic and her lover Ulay) has been scratched.  Reportedly, Abramovic is sending her film crew in order to capture the events.

Hanging around the Big Apple this coming Memorial Day holiday? If so, you’re invited to visit Union Square Park on May 29 to be one of the first to experience the new installation of 11 nutty interactive sculptures by Miranda July. Eleven Heavy Things, as the work is called, includes sculptures with holes that you can stick your head through and plinths that kids can stand. It premiered at the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009.

What? You say Documenta 13 isn’t really due until 2012? You’re right, but the very first work in the sprawling international exhibition, overseen this time by curator Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, is due to be dedicated at noon on June 21, 2010 -- the summer solstice. It’s Giuseppe Penone’s Ideas of Stone, which resembles a small cloud caught in the branches of a tree, almost nine meters high. In fact the thing is a bronze sculpture with a stone set in its upper section. A sapling is planted nearby, to symbolize, Penone says, the relationship between nature and culture. "Like a tree, Documenta 13 will grow organically over the next two years," says the announcement. The work is located the Auepark, close to the Orangerie in Kassel.

One of the best-kept secrets of the "Outsider Art" world is Fluence, the online magazine published by the New York gallery Ricco/Maresca. The current number features a lushly illustrated article by Eleonore Weber on the Martín Ramírez exhibition mounted by the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, a portfolio of works by the Connecticut artist Ben Hotchkiss (currently on view at the gallery), and an interpretation of the puzzling number-art of George Widener by Edward M. Gómez. The current issue is the fifth; back issues can be viewed here.

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