Loading...

The Low Life 

Wednesday, Feb 11 1998
Untitled (1998)If we were queen of the universe - now that's a job we'd like - we would ban sports-utility vehicles, which usually seem to be steered by the most menacing maniacs on the road. However, we started contemplating the virtues of four-wheel drive as we tooled downtown through profoundly pounding precipitation. Forget hydroplaning, we swear our car actually floated across a couple of intersections on our way to the MOCA Geffen Contemporary, which was flooded with art tarts and culture vultures who'd weathered the storm, so to speak, to attend the opening of "Out of Actions: Between Performance and the Object, 1949-1979" (up through May 10). MOCA chief curator PAUL SCHIMMEL, with an international team of writers, curators, critics and academics, has put together an exhilarating, exemplary, exhaustive (and exhausting!) exhibition that examines chronologically an astounding array of postwar artists (more than 100 artists and collaboratives from around the world) and the creative process. And what a process it is: from Jackson Pollock's drippings, to Kazuo Shiraga's paintings by foot, to Allan Kaprow's "action collages," to Robert Filliou's automatic poetry machine (hmm . . . we need to get ourselves an automatic Low Life machine), to Yves Klein's nude models as paintbrushes, to Yoko Ono's interactive works, to Carolee Schneemann's proto-feminist body actions, to Gilbert & George's living sculptures, to Valie Export's street-performance documentations. Gazing at photos from an Orgies-Mysteries Theater performance by HERMANN NITSCH (who also put in an appearance at an Actionist film retrospective that was part of the Beyond the Pink Performance Festival, which runs through February 21) prompted one gent to recall when Nitsch brought his extreme blood-and-guts super-splatter show to L.A. in 1978 (the only appearance ever of the Orgies-Mysteries Theater in town; by the bye, whether the correct title is "Orgies-Mysteries Theater" or "Mysteries-Orgies Theater" seems to be a subject of some debate - we asked Hermann himself, whose only response was a great guffaw and a hearty slap on the back). He'd performed in a Venice loft with a free-music orchestra of about 45 that included the Deadbeats' Pat Delaney dipping his sax into cow entrails that had been suspended above the center of the floor, the Satin Tones' Hal Negro, the Germs' Don Bolles, Geza X, members of the L.A. Free Music Society, along with various CalArts types and Masque punkers. "Nitsch poured cow's blood down the throat of one of the passive participants, who'd regurgitate it, only to have it poured back down," reminisced our informant. "Rumor is that the guy had to have therapy after the experience." After hearing about it, we needed therapy too! We noticed more than a few fellows carefully studying a provocative photo piece on pornography by Throbbing Gristle co-founder COSEY FANNI TUTTI, who had posed nude in various hardcore shots, and who joked that she'd brought the weekend's dreadful deluge with her from England. Frankly, we didn't know what the heck to make of French artiste ORLAN, who had a piece in the show. It wasn't that her hair was chartreuse on one side, black on the other and shaved high on the forehead; nor was it her large matching glasses or capacious cape - you can see that in the mall, for chrissakes! No, what we couldn't comprehend were the Frankensteinian protrusions implanted under the skin on each temple. Evidently, plastic surgery is part of Orlan's creative process, according to a connoisseur who offered to pop by the MOCA bookstore and dig up the tome with all the photo documentation of her experiences under the scalpel. We declined, being somewhat squeamish, but couldn't help wondering, Does this mean tit jobs are art? But then, art is whatever people say it is.

Taking it all in were BIBBE HANSEN with sons BECK and CHANNING (Bibbe's late father, Al Hansen, a famed Fluxus artist, is represented in the exhibition); artist JOHN BALDESSARI; art director and erstwhile Screamer KK BARRETT, whose former bandmate Tomata du Plenty is making a rare visit to L.A. for "Dolly, Loretta, Tammy & Tomata," a one-night show of his paintings at You've Got Bad Taste this Saturday night; vox vixen ANNA HOMLER; painter FRED TOMASELLI, in town from New York for his opening at Christopher Grimes Gallery; multimedia artist and former Party Boys singer MARNIE WEBER; Smart Art Press managing editor SUSAN MARTIN, who along with her two partners in Some Serious Business was instrumental in bringing Hermann Nitsch to L.A. in '78; performance artist SKIP ARNOLD; photog FREDRIK NILSEN; artist MIKE KELLEY; actor DENNIS HOPPER; painter STEVE HURD; artist RACHEL LACHOWICZ; and SKOT ARMSTRONG, founder of Science Holiday, one of L.A.'s first Dada-punk zines and still publishing.

Related Stories

  • Cold Weather Food 2

    What the hell is going on with this summer? It was triple digits for weeks on end in MAY, for chrissakes. And we can expect it to continue to hit those kinds of highs for months still to come.  We don't know about you, but we only want to eat...
  • Venice Mourns 3

    Many in Venice this week were mourning the death of Bret Haller, founder of the Yo! Venice! website. An L.A. County Department of Coroner official confirmed to L.A. Weekly that Haller, 45, died of pancreatic cancer on April 9.  His death was announced by family on his own website. Tributes poured...
  • Westside Pho Shooting

    A man was injured in a shooting at a Venice Boulevard pho restaurant in Palms last night, police said. The attack at Super Pho & Teriyaki at 10953 Venice Boulevard was reported at 9:25 p.m., Los Angeles police Sgt. Carlton Jeter told the Weekly. The victim ...  ... apparently took...
  • Crowds Throw Bottles at Police in Venice (VIDEO)

    Cops attempting to break up the weekly Sunday drum circle on the sand in Venice were greeted by 700 people who did not want to leave, some of whom threw bottles at police, an LAPD official told the Weekly. The beach is closed at sunset and, like clockwork, police arrived...
  • Art History Gets Cleaned Up

    @ The Getty Center

We're All Actionists NowArt With a Capital F: Everyone's a critic, but one visitor at the Getty certainly had an odoriferous way of expressing his opinion. We were wandering in the photo gallery following a dazzling display of dexterity by DIAVOLO DANCE THEATER, which kicked off the Getty's new Friday-night performance series, when suddenly this gent let rip a resounding reek-o-rama. Must have been his own "creative process."

Book 'Em: Well, we just have to say that the Weekly threw a swingin' swanky soiree at Pinot Hollywood to celebrate the publication of our recent "Literary L.A." issue. Honest. (Like we'd suck up to get that raise we deserve.) Anyway, loads of literary luminaries schmoozed and boozed, though we don't dare mention any names after all the calls the paper received from writers (or their fans) not included in the issue who thought they'd been overlooked.

Four-Wheelers: No wonder actors TONY ABATEMARCO and JOHN FLECK have been losing weight during their run of Charles Ludlam's fun-tabulous farce The Mystery of Irma Vep at the Tiffany Theater. The two, each of whom plays multiple parts, give "quick-change artist" a new definition as they dash offstage as one character and appear moments later as another. We shed a few pounds just watching (if only it were that easy!). As we were leaving the Tiffany, we couldn't help but notice the garish lights of Mel's drive-in, at the site of the former Ben Frank's, blazing up the block. And we got depressed thinking about the po-mo irony of an ersatz diner replacing the real deal. Actually, we always get depressed when the phrase "po-mo irony" pops into our head.

And that's the "low life."

Related Content

Now Trending

Los Angeles Concert Tickets

Slideshows

  • Cowabunga! 30 Years of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
    The COWABUNGA! - 30 Years of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles tribute show opened Friday night at Iam8bit. Guests donned their beloved turtle graphic tees, onesies and a couple April O'Neils were there to report on all the mean, green, fighting machine action. Artist included Jude Buffum, Tony Mora, Nan Lawson, leesasaur, Jim Rucc, Mitch Ansara, Guin Thompson, Stratman, Gabe Swarr, Joseph Harmon, Alex Solis, Allison Hoffman, Jose Emroca Flores, Jack Teagle and more. All photos by Shannon Cottrell.
  • 21st Annual Classic Cars "Cruise Night" in Glendale
    On Saturday, spectators of all ages were out in multitudes on a beautiful summer night in Glendale to celebrate the 21st annual Cruise Night. Brand Boulevard, one of the main streets through downtown Glendale, was closed to traffic and lined with over 250 classic, pre-1979 cars. There was plenty of food to be had and many of the businesses on Brand stayed open late for the festivities The evening ended with fireworks and a 50th anniversary concert from The Kingsmen, who performed their ultimate party hit, "Louie, Louie." All photos by Jared Cowan.
  • Moonlight Rollerway Jubilee and Skate Party!
    Ambassador of Americana Charles Phoenix and Dominic's Moonlight Rollerway in Glendale hosted a jubilee featuring skating stars and world champions performing in a variety of costumed musical acts. The best part? An post-show all-skate party! All photos by Star Foreman.