January 13, 2017
Oscar winner Pierre Bismuth hires a private investigator to find L.A. master, Ed Ruscha's missing rock in the Mojave Desert in Where is Rocky II? Art experts, actors, and screenwriters also join the hunt for the mythical piece, which hasn't been seen for nearly 40 years. The Hollywood Reporter's Jordan Riefe talks to Bismuth in this piece leading up to the film's premiere at the Los Angeles County Museum.
An artwork that might not exist is about as minimalist as you can get. Ed Ruscha’s Rocky II is that piece. A resin sculpture of a boulder made in the late 1970s, it’s rumored to be somewhere in the Mojave Desert. When Oscar-winning screenwriter Pierre Bismuth (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) saw a 1979 BBC documentary on the renowned Southern California artist making the rock and putting it in the desert, he couldn’t help but wonder, "Where is Rocky II?" The question became the title of his new documentary, getting its U.S. premiere at LACMA on January 13.
A catalogue of Ruscha’s work makes no mention of Rocky II, and when Bismuth turns his cameras on such figures as LACMA CEO Michael Govan or MOCA director Philippe Vergne, he's met with blank stares. Other than the BBC footage, there was no reason to believe the piece even existed. Bismuth sought verbal confirmation by posing as a journalist at the 2009 London presser at the Hayward Gallery during a retrospective on the artist. Ruscha appears taken aback when questioned about Rocky II, responding, “You’ve done your homework,” then adding, “It’s out there, somewhere.”