“I’m going to bring the museum down,” Rainn Wilson says of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. “Cultural institutions are closing left and right, and I am going to shut it down and put a golf course where LACMA currently is. I hate that place.”
The first step in Wilson’s hostile takeover: commandeering the museum’s Twitter feed, and holding its 63,000 followers hostage for a weekend in August. “I’m going to be tweeting for LACMA, covered in feces and with a yam in my butt,” he says, a hint of Dwight Schrute in his voice.
“I’m going to be tweeting for LACMA, covered in feces and with a yam in my butt.”
The secret behind this dead-serious nefarious plot: it’s performance art. Wilson’s Twitter tirade, titled I HATE LACMA, is part of the museum’s show Cell Phone Stories, which runs through September. A range of artists will create works that are sent to people via text message. On Thursday, for example, Kate and Laura Mulleavy, the design team behind Rodarte, sketched a dress inspired by a 15th-century Mexican mosaic skull in the museum’s collection. The sketch was released via text message to subscribers (text “LACMA” to 67553 to join).
Cell Phone Stories is an experiment in art without a frame. As the curator Steve Fagin puts it, “The museum exists in more forms than you think. It’s not a fixed entity.” To that end, they’ve enlisted Barry Yourgrau, Adrienne Ferrari, Kianga Ford, and others in this grand idea for viral art.
Though I HATE LACMA may suggest otherwise, Rainn Wilson actually loves art. His father, Robert Wilson, is an abstract painter, and both father and son collect art. This explains Wilson’s involvement with the museum. “They wouldn’t show any of [my father’s] paintings,” Wilson says of LACMA. “He would have preferred kerosene and a lighter, but if we need a multimedia piece to try and hurt it—then so be it.”
In all seriousness though, Wilson says that, if he can involve his massive Twitter following in the museum, it will ultimately be a good thing. “If I tweet about this 50 times, then probably 17 more people will visit LACMA,” he says. “But those 17 people could be the difference between making or breaking the museum.”
Isabel Wilkinson is an assistant editor at The Daily Beast.