Five Artsy Things to Do This Week, Including Music by Babies
Courtesy of the artist Ming Wong's film Making Chinatown
Two exhibitions with Chinatown in the title top this week's list, and both are remakes. One further twists Roman Polanski's already twisted classic film about where incest meets corporate corruption. The other is a sequel to an exhibition that never actually happened.
5. Fictional, futurist Jewish Renaissance
Israeli video artist Yael Bartana's Polish trilogy is a series of films, each following a different facet of the Jewish Renaissance Movement in Poland (JRMiP), an imaginary initiative Bartana invented. The first film starts with an activist calling for 3 million Jews to return to Poland. The final film begins, sometime in the close future, with the assassination of the movement's leader. All three will show at the Hammer Thursday, as will Dani Gal's Nacht und Nebel, in which policemen transport the ashes of war criminal Adolf Eichmann, who managed the logistics behind the Nazis' mass deportations of Jews. 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Wstwd.; Thurs., Feb. 16, 7 p.m.; free. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu.
4. Bears meet the Nazis
Artist James Gobel makes art about bears -- big, bearded, gay men -- using brightly colored, conventionally crafty materials, mostly felt and yarn. His bears have retrospectively invaded history before, appearing in Dionysian myths or in Shakespearean garb. But this time, at Steve Turner Contemporary, they're invading the Weimar Republic. In bright portraits and melancholic text pieces, Gobel riffs on the history of New objectivist painters Otto Dix and Christian Schad, who were trying to bring a scathing version of realism back to post-WWI Germany, until Nazis rolled in and squelched their vision. 6026 Wilshire Blvd.; through March 10. (323) 931-3721, steveturnercontemporary.com.
3. Experimental music by babies
Machine Project has been an open-air, plaza-style storefront for the last few months, ever since artist-engineer Nate Page relocated its glass window to the back of the building. Apparently, after a visiting infant spent an afternoon crawling through the space, the operators realized they have a perfect "baby vivarium" on hand. Sound artist Scott Cazan has written software that converts the movement of crawling babies into sound. So they've solicited infant volunteers for Infantcore, a five-hour performance, during which anyone is welcome to stop by and watch the babies make avant-garde music. Machine Project, 1200-D N. Alvarado St.; Sat., Feb. 18., 11 a.m.-4 p.m. (213) 483-8761, machineproject.com.
2. Chinatown, the sequel
The sequel and the series are about as prominent in visual art as they are in movies. Artists are always remaking what others have made, or obsessively continuing narratives they invented themselves. A group exhibition called "Chinatown" was supposed to open a few years back but never did. This new exhibition, curated by Liv Barrett, imagines what might have happened if the exhibition had not only opened but been reprised. 7561 W. Sunset Blvd., #103; through March 17. (323) 378-6842, ltdlosangeles.com.
1. Chinatown, the remake
Ming Wong played every main role when he remade Roman Polanski's 1974 classic Chinatown -- Jack Nicholson's detective, Faye Dunaway's complicated Mrs. Mulwray, Mrs. Mulwray's daughter Katherine. His exhibition at REDCAT looks like a studio back lot with all the props and sets he used in his filming laid out across a darkened gallery, and the various scenes of the movie playing all at once. You walk into the gallery to hear Wong, channeling Nicholson, tell a dirty joke about a "Chinaman," then see him get his nose cut open by a Polanski look-alike, enmeshed in a heated love scene with himself in a blond wig, and trying but failing to save himself when overzealous policemen open fire. 631 W. Second St., dwntwn.; through April 1. (213) 237-2800, redcat.org.