Photos: Technicolor MOCA gala celebrates Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist

“Everyone dances fearlessly and without judgment,” promised the invitation. And it was right.

Welcome back to the Museum of Contemporary Art’s annual gala, held Saturday night for the first time since 2019 after a three-year pandemic break.

Artists and celebrities, museum directors and other figures in the art world – including Eva Longoria, Christina Hendricks, Gia Coppola, Keanu Reeves and Artists Karon Davis, Lauren Halsey, Mary Weatherford, Alexandra Grant, Henry Taylor, Mark Grotjahn and Doug Aitken – mingled at a pre-dinner cocktail party in the outdoor plaza of the museum’s Geffen Contemporary in Little Tokyo.

Two people were lying on pillows on the floor.

Two partygoers lay on cushions at Pipilotti Rist’s MOCA exhibition.

(Michelle Groskopf / For the Time)

A woman in a colorful outfit and wearing glasses, pictured with a man wearing glasses.

David C. Martin, left, with Pipilotti Rist, center.

(Michelle Groskopf / For the Time)

A wallet with a money symbol.

(Michelle Groskopf / For the Time)

Two women point to a drink on a tray held by a waiter.

(Michelle Groskopf / For the Time)

A man, a woman and a photographer stand in an exhibition.

Pipilotti Rist gave a private tour of her art exhibition to Chance the Rapper, the gala’s musical guest.

(Michelle Groskopf / For the Time)

Noticeably missing? The standard tuxedo and black dress.

Instead, the evening that marked the conclusion of the museum’s vibrant, immersive multimedia exhibition, Pipilotti Rist: Big Heartedness, Be My Neighbor, on June 6 was a kaleidoscopic flash of fashionable Technicolor. The cheery orange pantsuits (yes, there were more than one), pink frilly tuxedos (several, too), and flowing fuchsia capes (okay, one) — even the yellow and pink cocktails — seemed in conversation with the Swiss’s glowing light media artist installations and psychedelic video art. After all, the invitation had encouraged colorful clothing.

But the evening’s colorful palette had an added meaning. It ceremonially marked the arrival of MOCA’s new director, Johanna Burton, the museum’s first-ever female director. Not to mention a hopeful outlook for exhibitions and the general dynamic to come, Burton said at the cocktail party.

“We’re celebrating the end of Pipi’s show and the impact of that show,” said Burton, who wore a rainbow sequined Gucci dress. “But I’m also looking forward to the fall shows, which are all LA artists. This is a moment for us to reflect on the legacy of the institution and to reflect on its future.”

A woman is holding a drink.

(Michelle Groskopf / For the Time)

A man in profile shows the camera his blue and purple hairdo.

Artist Greg Ito shows his blue and purple color.

(Michelle Groskopf / For the Time)

Make a move on the dance floor.

(Michelle Groskopf / For the Time)

A woman and a man pose for the camera.

Artist Alexandra Grant and actor Keanu Reeves take a break from mixing and smile for the camera.

(Michelle Groskopf / For the Time)

A woman is sitting on a bench.

MOCA board member Dallas Price-Van Breda in the middle of a stimulating conversation.

(Michelle Groskopf / For the Time)

A woman in profile smiles at the camera.

There were many smiles at dinner.

(Michelle Groskopf / For the Time)

A woman in a golden glove clutches a bag.

MOCA Board Chair Maria Seferian dressed in a gold glove and orange and pink outfit.

(Michelle Groskopf / For the Time)

A woman sits between two men.

Christina Hendricks, center, and George Bianchini, right, converse with a guest seated at their dining table.

(Michelle Groskopf / For the Time)

Two women hug.

(Michelle Groskopf / For the Time)

A sousaphone played alongside other brass instruments, signaling the guests that dinner was about to begin.

(Michelle Groskopf / For the Time)

A woman with her back to the camera.

Keni Silva dressed in neon green backless number.

(Michelle Groskopf / For the Time)

The sensual delights of the gala were also audible. During dinner, Rist wore what appeared to be loose-fitting floral pajamas, purple lipstick, and pink glasses – addressed the crowd and encouraged guests to join her in a round of buzzing together. The exercise was part of a new interactive “happening” (as opposed to a performance) called “Summing Neighbors” – neighbors is the key word.

“We’re family tonight,” Rist told the crowd, “and this is our dining room together.”

Throughout the room, attendees were bathed in the glow of multicolored LED tube lights serving as centerpieces – bowed their heads or closed their eyes, and a meditative chorus of humming in different tones filled the room.

A man looks at the camera while a woman stands in profile.

Honor Titus, left, and Gia Coppola doing the rounds at the pre-dinner cocktail party.

(Michelle Groskopf / For the Time)

Two men in colorful outfits are talking to people at a table.

Francisco George and William Escalera hold court at their Galatian during dinner.

(Michelle Groskopf / For the Time)

A man in a suit looks on.

(Michelle Groskopf / For the Time)

Save a treat for after the dance.

(Michelle Groskopf / For the Time)

Two women hug.

(Michelle Groskopf / For the Time)

Think while wearing a pink suit.

(Michelle Groskopf / For the Time)

A woman with large blue earrings walks by.

(Michelle Groskopf / For the Time)

A man smiles at the camera.

David C. Martin holds a glass of champagne, perhaps after a toast.

(Michelle Groskopf / For the Time)

The MOCA Gala is the museum’s largest annual fundraiser, raising more than $2.9 million this year, according to the museum. Proceeds support exhibitions, educational initiatives and other programs.

After a post-dinner performance by musical guest Chance the Rapper, attendees flocked outside to the square to enjoy espresso martinis, a dessert menu and a Rist-designed dance party for which members of the public had purchased tickets.

Rist downplayed her involvement in planning the dance party. She only had one caveat, she told us after dinner: “No hard rock. I said electronica and funk and soul to the DJ.”

She surveyed the room through dark purple sunglasses.

“It’s such a great audience,” she said. “In the wildest city in the world. Everyone supports the art. It can’t get any better.”

At this point, the crowd danced until midnight under a cluster of sparkling disco balls. Fearless, sure. Without judgement? Well, that’s the art world, after all.

However, one thing is certain: it was a party to remember, a colorful picture of a fully reawakened museum and arts community reconnecting.

Two women look at each other.

Leah D, left, with Noella Bergener, deep in conversation…or a staring contest.

(Michelle Groskopf / For the Time)

The best selfie spot of the night? In the Pipilotti Rist show.

(Michelle Groskopf / For the Time)

MOCA board member Deborah Irmas, left, grins with Christine Sun Kim in what appears to be a hilarious joke.

MOCA board member Deborah Irmas, left, grins with Christine Sun Kim in what appears to be a hilarious joke.

(Michelle Groskopf / For the Time)

Three figures are talking.

MOCA CEO Maria Seferian, left, in conversation with Pipilotti Rist, center.

(Michelle Groskopf / For the Time)

A man with glasses and a sparkling green shirt.

Cameron Silver looks into the distance.

(Michelle Groskopf / For the Time)

A woman crawls onto the stage.

Pipilotti Rist crawls onto the stage during her speech at the gala.

(Michelle Groskopf / For the Time)

A woman with black glasses smiles and looks at the camera

(Michelle Groskopf / For the Time)

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2022-06-05/moca-gala-celebrates-swiss-artist-pipilotti-rist-photos Photos: Technicolor MOCA gala celebrates Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist

Sarah Ridley

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