|Courtesy of the artist|
|Performers on the set of Emily Mast's B!rdbra!n|
When artist Emily Mast staged B!RDBRA!N
at Public Fiction in Highland Park in September, it was her third staging of it this year, and the best one. The abstract-language experiment, performed by seven actors and loosely inspired by the true story of a parrot with the intellect of a 5-year-old, felt aloof when performed in front of a static audience. But at Public Fiction, audience members could wander in and around the brightly colored set while a little girl recited an existentialist monologue or a man in sweats break-danced while making train-conductorlike hand signals. At the end, audiences could request encores of specific scenes until performers got too tired.
9. When James Franco asked Paul McCarthy, an artist known for irreverent fantasies that often involve prosthetics, puppets and bodily fluids, to make work loosely inspired by the making of Rebel Without a Cause, McCarthy said he would "dabble." McCarthy and son Damon McCarthy put on "Rebel Dabble Babble" at the Box L.A., the space run by Paul's daughter, Mara McCarthy, at the same time as Franco put on a far less thoughtful MOCA show in Hollywood (to which the McCarthys also contributed). They hired Elyse Poppers to play Natalie Wood, who purportedly had trysts with director Nicholas Ray during Rebel's filming. In the videos projected all over the Box's labyrinthine space, Paul McCarthy appeared as Ray, bathing with Poppers in one sequence and pulling a chair out from under her repeatedly in another. It was as sadistically unnerving as it should have been.
|From "Rebel Dabble Babble" at the Box|
10. When you walk into "Blues for Smoke" at MOCA's Geffen Contemporary space (on display through Jan. 7), you see Richard Pryor on a TV monitor doing stand-up comedy. Then, on the first floor, you walk through a waxy all-red, chapel-like room built by artist Rodney McMillian, you see Kerry James Marshall's painting of a figure swimming in a haunted blue lake and you can watch HBO's The Wire in a small, dark gallery. Bennett Simpson curated the show and, of all the attempts the museum has made to merge pop culture, commercial media and art this year (the Mercedes-Benz-backed Transmission L.A. fest, Franco's "Rebel" show), this is the one that actually works.
|Rodney McMillian's from Asterisks in Dockery in "Blues for Smoke"|
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