Night of Fantasy, Happenings

The Santa Monica Museum of Art christened its new space at Bergamot Station Thursday night with a gala fund-raiser featuring performances by Karen Finley and Beck.

A crowd of about 700 watched Finley deliver an X-rated fantasy involving her and several conservative political figures, followed by a somewhat free-form monologue, delivered while she wore a teddy and lay on her back on an outdoor stage.

Beck, the singer-songwriter who exploded onto the pop music scene in 1994, is the grandson of the late Fluxus artist Al Hansen. Beck seemingly paid homage to his grandfather's association with the performance art form known as Happenings with a piece titled "New Age Evisceration I."

With accompanying musicians called the Dream Weavers and dressed in '60s hippie attire--replete with a long-haired wig and headband--Beck delivered an obscure, but occasionally comic, text, backed by ethereal synthesizer sounds, bass and percussion. The performers included someone in a dolphin costume with an out-sized phallus strapped around his waist and stagehands wearing horse-head masks.

Beck concluded his performance by eviscerating one of his synthesizers with a power saw--a "happening" indeed.

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