It’s Saturday night at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s annual Art + Film gala, a surreal annual fundraiser chaired by Eva Chow and Leonardo DiCaprio. Think of it as an art-world version of the Oscars, where the art famous collide with the famous famous, and anyone who’s anyone gets strategically dressed by Gucci (the evening’s co-sponsor with Audi). To hit the mark on the art and film title, this year’s honorees are Light and Space artist (and L.A. native) Helen Pashgian and Korean director Park Chan-wook, with a guest performance by Elton John. And according to LACMA director Michael Govan, this 11th edition is already the most successful gala ever, having raised “more than $5 million.”
A brigade of black SUVs pulls up in front of Chris Burden’s Urban Light (2008), where the sculpture’s glowing lamp posts are foregrounded by a tinted pink sunset and the unrelenting flashes of a dozen event photographers. Later in the night, Pashgian explains the peculiar properties of Southern California light photons, but for now, a man is shouting from across Wilshire Boulevard.
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“What’s the event?” he asks to no response. “Anybody?”