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Notebook on Cities and Culture S4E67: Extremely Permanent with Doug Pray

dougprayBeneath the rock of Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Colin Marshall talks with documentarian Doug Pray, maker of such films as Hype! on the Seattle 1990s grunge scene, Infamy on graffiti artists, Surfwise on Doc Paskowitz’s traveling family, and Art & Copy on the advertising industry. His new Levitated Mass examines the complicated movement of the rock all the way from Riverside to its site at LACMA. They discuss how often he’s stood under the rock since making the movie, and what he hears when he does; how his projects all look at misunderstood subcultures; how he thinks about giving voice to critics of his subjects, be they rocks, art movements, or industries; the importance of “lifting the veil” in a documentary; how it takes “a disaster or something great” to bring Los Angeles together, and the way this great thing found have turned into a disaster; the similarities between the time of the rock’s movement through town and that of the 1984 Olympics; the comparison between the movement of the rock, and the movement of the space shuttle Endeavor several months later; the agonizing formation of the rock’s route; how a large-scale art project like this compares to a large-scale public works project like the subway; the “absurdity of the ask,” and the work’s resultant “extreme permanence”; why its being a rock bothers people; the way that not just the artwork but “the happening became its own thing”; how he became aware of Heizer’s art, and what he thought about his piece in Seattle when he saw it during the Hype! era; how East Lansing got, and lost, their own Heizer; the current debate over permanence and impermanence in Los Angeles; how the best cities anthologize all their eras, and the way this city has found its mixture; why “the ideas about Los Angeles didn’t update,” how the city “can be so hated that I actually enjoy it,” and why he finds arguments about it versus New York “hysterically stupid”; what it meant to him when he saw a duplex driven town the street in X: The Unheard Music; his interest in people who feel the entire world has turned against them; what makes Heizer “the real deal”; how, in this era, Los Angeles “just has more intention”; and its conversion from a city that supposedly “has nothing” to one that “as everything.”

Download the interview here as an MP3 or on iTunes.

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