LOS ANGELES — In an alt-facts world that gets more bizarre with every passing day of this new administration, absurdist art that plays on America’s obsession with entertainment provides temporary comic relief. “The Jerry Maguire Video Store” at iam8bit gallery was one such project. For just over two weeks, the walls and shelves of the makeshift store were lined with 14,000 VHS tapes of the hit ’90s Hollywood film Jerry Maguire, donated by people over an eight-year period. Now the collective behind the installation, Everything Is Terrible!, wants to do something even more absurd: raise $400,000 to build a pyramid in the desert to house of all those copies. That’s four times as much money as a group of artists in LA recently raised for the ACLU for an actual political cause.
It may sound like a high estimate for a tomb-like pyramid that will exist only to house a bunch of VHS tapes, but according to Everything Is Terrible! Creative Director Nic Maier, architects, engineers and builders told him the figure was actually on the low end. Originally, the group wanted to put the tapes on the outside of the structure, but quickly killed that idea after realizing the printed Jerry Maguire images would be almost immediately destroyed. If the collective raises the funds, the pyramid will be about 35 feet tall, with a 50-by-50 footprint. Bathrooms and $100K worth of cement will be a large part of the cost, though Maier notes that they won’t know the final figure until they pick a location and work with local authorities and zoning laws. A place in Joshua Tree wouldn’t be the same price as one in Palm Desert, Death Valley, or Palmdale. The southern California desert is vast.
Absurdist art like this makes one wonder about creative coping strategies and self-care as Trump attempts to destroy America. If the President and his administration kill us all by provoking war with Iran or China, or just destroy the planet, a pyramid in the desert could theoretically be the last thing standing when the aliens come to claim this charred, circular, floating mass we once called Earth. Perhaps the pyramid will be built and then forgotten and then revived in the future, like what happened to the Calico Ghost Town, which serves as a reminder of the days of silver mining. But what’s the environmental impact of creating such a synthetic structure in the desert?
“This structure will be built in line with all the laws our world has created,” says Maier. “I do find it curious that we don’t ask ‘why?’ or ‘how will this impact our environment?’ when a Target gets built or a million Blu-rays and iPhones get produced — all of which are destined for landfills within the eight years that it took to deliver the Jerrys to us.”
It would be, as Everything Is Terrible! says in its statement, an epic monument to America’s consumption — the same consumption and greed that could very well ruin our planet.
“The bottom line for us is that we wish to hold up this random yet beautiful object that has been deemed trash as a holy relic of our world,” says Maier. “We will build this structure, and it will insert a brief moment of absurdity and wonder in a mostly drab and terrible mess.”
Everything Is Terrible! is fundraising for its Jerry Maguire pyramid on GoFundMe.
As arts communities around the world experience a time of challenge and change, accessible, independent reporting on these developments is more important than ever.
Please consider supporting our journalism, and help keep our independent reporting free and accessible to all.