Pity the beleaguered museum gallery attendants who get assigned the shift to keep watch on the art installation by artist Carmen Argote at LACMA. The art in question is titled “720 Sq. Ft.,” and for good reason.
The title references the 720 square feet of carpeting ripped from the artist’s childhood home and displayed on the wall and floor of a high-ceiling BCAM space as what some might like to call a “sculptural object.”
About half of the artwork lies on the floor like a … well, like a carpet. This can cause confusion for some museum visitors, unsure whether they’re allowed to — or are supposed to — walk on the carpet (you know, the one that’s on the floor, as it were).
Sometimes for certain kinds of works, artists encourage or expect viewers of their work to physically interact with it — to touch it, walk on it, sit on it and so on. But not here. Not for “720 Sq. Ft..” Casually sauntering across the re-purposed and modified floor covering would amount to vandalism. It’s verboten.
The gallery attendants have their work cut out for them here, ’cause a lot of museum visitors think they can and should walk on carpet or don’t even realize it’s a work of art. There are many “Excuse me, sir”s and “Please don’t walk on the artwork!”s uttered in the cavernous white space where “720 Sq. Ft.” is on view.
These utterances are often spoken quickly, firmly but politely. But on occasion you sense the exasperation in the attendant’s voice and a curt and mildly-aggressive tone seeps in. It’s kind of #sad but a little entertaining too.
But take note: Encountering this adds yet another dimension to the experience of Argote’s artwork (though it may not have been intended). This makes “720” one among our favorite collections of artworks on view at LACMA.