Random International’s Rain Room, the large-scale, interactive installation in which visitors experience an artificial downpour but never get wet, has been acquired by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Lacma).
The work is a gift from RH (Restoration Hardware). In late 2015, the home-furnishing company lent the work to Lacma for an exhibition. Nearly 190,000 visitors enjoyed the immersive experience with an ecological message in its extended 15-month run at Lacma.
The acquisition in January coincided with the removal of references to climate change from the White House’s website when Donald Trump, the new US president, took office. “It’s important to resist that crap,” says Hannes Koch, co-founder of the Random International collective, who adds that having to go indoors to experience rain provides a “dystopian glimpse” of the future and hopefully a “wake-up call”.
Koch and his fellow founders of the Berlin- and London-based collective, Florian Ortkrass and Stuart Wood, are delighted that the first edition of the Rain Room will remain at Lacma and that the continuous downpour of around 528 gallons of recycled water will resume as the campus is rebuilt. “It’s mindboggling that it will be part of a collection that includes our big heroes of art and technology,” Koch says, naming Robert Irwin and James Turrell in particular.
The director of Lacma, Michael Govan, was instrumental in bringing Rain Room to Los Angeles amid a prolonged drought. He tells us: “It is especially appropriate that the Rain Room is a gift to Lacma as we are near to marking the 50th anniversary of the museum’s landmark Art & Technology programme. The response to the work in Los Angeles has been tremendous over the past year. The public here has come to ‘own’ the Rain Room , so it's great that it will stay in the city.”
Gary Friedman, the chairman and chief executive of RH, says: “To us, Rain Room is a reflection of creative courage, trust and a belief that all of us have the ability to affect any environment we choose to step into.” The California-based company commissioned the first edition of Rain Room in 2012. He says: “We knew instantly how special and remarkable this work of art was,” which was confirmed by its success at Lacma and, before that, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Meanwhile, the Sharjah Art Foundation is due to install its edition of Rain Room in a permanent home in the Gulf later this year.