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L.A. Museum Installs Real Swimming Pool in Gallery

Only in L.A.!

Ah, a day at MOCA. Nothing like perusing the canonical works of Latin American artists who explore themes of light and space as a prelude to lofty discussions about context and culture, art and Art — all while floating half naked in a pool next to pictures of cocaine. Wait… Wha?

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Sure enough, the city’s preeminent contemporary art museum has a swimming pool. And yeah, projected on a wall overhead, it’s got images of a John Cage book piled with blow — which in L.A. we guess is shorthand for capital-A art.

But capital-A art you can splash around in! The pool is about 3 feet deep, heated, lit like a Virgin Airlines cabin, and open to visitors. You can buy disposable swimsuits at the MOCA Store or bring your own and change there. The museum even has a lifeguard on duty who’s probably 6-foot-3, blond, and “an actor.” God bless L.A.

The pool is the work of late Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica and filmmaker Neville D’Almeida — for an exhibit on, well, the canonical works of Latin-American artists who explore themes of light and space. How a live pool fits in, per MOCA’s press department: “The water presents a dynamic surface where the movements of the swimming participants are integrated into the work in a complete reinvention of art as an immersive, sensorial, and interactive experience.” Elevator pitch: It’s Less Than Zero meets Dangerous When Wet.

Certainly, pools aren’t unprecedented in art museums. David Hockney managed to build an entire career out of painting them. It’s just that normally they’re not populated by real people. Let’s be glad this one’s in L.A. where the human body is already treated like a work of art.

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The exhibit, Suprasensorial: Experiments in Light, Color, and Space (shown above), runs through February. More info here.

[Images courtesy of MOCA]

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About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D

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