Museums

Will Ferrell and Joel McHale try to make sense of the art at LA’s Hammer Museum

Wonderfully tongue in cheek video, the museum's curator Aram Moshayedi takes the actors on a mock VIP tour of the show Stories of Almost Everyone

We’ve all been there: walking through an exhibition like the Hammer Museum’s Stories of Almost Everyone—billed as a show “about the interpretation of art objects”—asking ourselves, “Is that art?” It can be especially dizzying when those objects seem both irredeemably trivial (checkered socks) and and overloaded with significance (these socks are the “kilt hose” worn by Henry IV, according to the artist Kasper Bosmans). It can make you laugh in the same existentially painful way as a Samuel Beckett play. But seeing the actors Will Ferrell and Joel McHale walk through the show on a mock VIP tour with the curator Aram Moshayedi is funny in a warmer and more reassuring way. The self-referential character played by Ferrell, whose wife Viveca Paulin-Ferrell is on the Hammer's board, plays the role of an art neophyte earnestly trying to make sense of it all, which lets us join and rejoice in the confusion. What? That pile of shoes by Latifah Echakhch took a full day to install? And Mungo Thomson is having the Hammer’s incoming mail delivered and dumped onto the gallery floor for what reason exactly? Along the way, while playing straight man to the occasionally stupefied actors, Moshayedi shares the stories that animate these art works—sometimes literally. Martin Creed’s Work No. 569, a white piano with a loudly slamming lid, seems to convince both actors of the show’s merits. “It’s definitely art. I would say. I think,” McHale says at the end of the tour. We feel ya, Joel.