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The Getty like a

Lunar Landscape

I want to build a building out of all the newspapers from the day Trump won the election (some kind of huge monolithic thing, or perhaps just a wall? Piercing through the side of a gallery like a dagger?). But nobody hoards the things you need until you need them and by then it’s already too late.

In Malibu, the sky dissolved right into the sea. The thin line of the ocean seemed to cut the clouds open like a knife so it bled grey everywhere, so the horizon didn’t really exist anymore, everything blurred. There was a kind of anticipation in it, a quiet build up, all of us standing around in the carpark of the seafood restaurant, the hills fading upwards, our huge van barely casting a shadow.

Over lunch Jonathan told me that he saw two dead birds the day before, one on the beach and one in the gutter near his house. I wonder if the affliction will spread [like wings] now i’ve said it out loud, now i’ve given it weight in reality, now i’ve held it out like a precious stone for people to inspect, for people to scrutinise, for people to look at. It seemed an appropriate place to talk about it. We were eating fish under this dark blue canopy and I imagined us all like seagulls, like our folded elbows (all angled in to avoid rubbing) became wings and suddenly there were feathers and that shuffling sound they make all over the place.

Patrice looked outside and said “hey, the sea disappeared,” and looking out through the dark diner everything had become a bright white, like someone took a photo of the place with the flash on.

The Getty Centre is a landscape project. I can’t even really believe it has an inside. In fact I think i’ll outright say it doesn’t. Every part of it is an exterior surface scaled up so you feel like you’re walking around on a sculpture someone made and then expanded it in all directions and stopped a little too late.

In the garden we threw pennies into the pool and Ruta said the women must use their left hands (because left is the woman’s side) and then clap afterwards or it will be bad luck. Andrew asked her if he doesn’t clap will his wish not come true, and she said it depends how strongly he believes in his wish. The pennies glinted like teeth through the lips of the fountain and we watched our wishes sink fast.

We had a very keen engineer as our Getty docent, who didn’t seem too phased by a group of 20 architects preparing to question him at every turn. He seemed to love the place and kept talking about “Le Corbuzzier” and about these feature stones which were fossils made by cloud bursts.

The whole place sits on a 15ft by 15ft grid made up of 30inch by 30inch squares – which is apparently the measure of personal space in the West. And it became obvious when he said that because each of us was standing on our own tiles, like we’d personally marked the space out as ours. “The human scale” apparently, even though the building seems impossibly large, and if it doesn’t have an inside, almost entirely pointless.

There are two whites used across the complex, the Getty white and the Meier white.

Richard Meier wanted the whole building clad in the Meier white, and maybe it would have made more sense, but the neighbours didn’t like it, so they used the coffee white, so it looks dirtier, like a smudge. But perhaps the brightness of the Meier white would have been too much, maybe it would have become like a rising moon on the hill, reflecting all the sun back down into LA.

The best part of the whole place is the cactus garden. Here all the mad prickly forms of the cacti stand up like hair on the great arm that reaches out toward the city. You just want to line yourself along the edge of it, or get lost in the greenness of the thing against the glimmering of the highrises beyond.

We saw Kanye and got told off for taking pictures. When the boys told us he was there we thought they were joking and didn’t want to fall into the trap of it. But it was real and he sat relaxed with his security guards and everyone fizzed around the place because humans like to turn other humans into gods. Jonathan talked to him and invited him to lecture and then came back in a daze with vibrating hands.

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