This week, an artist performs as an aspiring high school magician in Chinatown, while a bearded lemon man is prominently featured in a West Hollywood show.
Self-portrait as a skeleton
“I’m thinking of doing a self-portrait of innerman,” artist Robert Rauschenberg told Sydney Felsen in 1967. Felsen and his partner, Stanley Grinstein, had opened their print studio Gemini G.E.L. on Melrose Avenue just one year before. They wanted to do a project with Rauschenberg, then already revered for his pop-infused abstractions, but Felsen had no idea what a “self-portrait of innerman” meant. Later, when he picked Rauschenberg up at LAX, he learned that the artist wanted to take a full body X-ray of himself and make a print of his own skeleton. This proved difficult — Rauschenberg was 6 feet tall, and most machines could X-ray just a foot at a time. So Rauschenberg used six X-rays to make Booster, the long, frenetic, fragmented print of his body. It’s on view at LACMA as part of "The Serial Impulse at Gemini G.E.L.," a show commemorating the studio’s 50th anniversary. Rauschenberg’s isn’t the only ambitiously quirky project — in Claes Oldenburg’s tongue-in-cheek storybook, the artist imagines covering ground in Kassel, Germany, with potato chips that resemble ears — and that's what makes the show good. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; through Jan. 2. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org.
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Boxing glove made of brains
Put on the 3-D glasses that artist Tim Berresheim included in his current show at Meliksetian Briggs, and the wallpaper against the southernmost wall will come into relief. The bearded lemon man will pop out, like a comic book character, as will a tub of whey protein. The lemon man is a motif in the show and sometimes he moves with a cane; he's old but fresh. Berresheim, based in Aachen, Germany, titled his show "Aus Alter Wurzel Neue Kraft," which translates to "New Strength From an Old Root." The works are all made via computer, but the renderings read as dense and worked over (and, data-wise, they are, as most prints come from massive files). In Aspettatori (feel up the lime) AEI23, a perfectly rendered nude, tattooed figure lurks in front of a teal tree, a boxing glove made of brains floating above her while a gridded sea pulsates beneath her. 313 N. Fairfax Ave., Beverly Grove; through Oct. 15. (310) 625-7049, meliksetianbriggs.com.
Saga of the young magician
Moonchops, the performance that artist Brian Getnick debuts this week at Automata Theater, has at its center an aspiring magician, who practices his art form in the prop room below his high school theater. Getnick has performed as a magician before, trying more to coax audience members into suspending their disbelief than to perform tricks — he’s more interested in psychological transportation. There will be costumes and special effects to facilitate the magic. 504 Chung King Court, Chinatown; Thu.-Fri., Sept. 22-23, 8:30 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 24, 2:30 & 8:30 p.m.; $20. liveartsexchange.org/moonchops.
Watermelon Woman comeback
In 1996, Cheryl Dunye made a film called The Watermelon Woman. In it, she plays a black lesbian video store worker who's trying to make her own movie about a 1930s film star, a glamorous black woman who's often typecast and is also a lesbian. Thankfully, Dunye’s movie — radical in its content and very ’90s in its vibe — is experiencing a comeback. Ephemera related to the film, including fantastic collection of photos, currently fills the balcony of the One Archive. Downstairs, in the archive’s small gallery, curator Erin Christovale has installed a show called "A Subtle Likeness," meant to resonate with themes in Dunye’s film. One of the highlights is Ayanah Moor’s video I need love, in which the artist stares at the camera, reciting LL Cool J lyrics: “When I'm alone in my room sometimes I stare at the wall, And in the back of my mind I hear my conscience call.” 909 W. Adams Blvd., University Park; through Dec. 22. (213) 821-2771, one.usc.edu.
Out-there opera singer
Bulgarian performance artist and vocalist Ivo Dimchev holds a redheaded woman in his lap, like she’s a stiff-limbed doll while a man in a beige suit strokes Dimchev’s blond, bowl-cut hair. All this happens in Operville, Dimchev’s experimental opera, before all three begin making syncopated noises, laughing and then transitioning into impressively operatic singing. Dimchev performs at PSSST this weekend, and the concert should be a compelling mix of eccentricity and virtuosity. 1329 E. Third St., Boyle Heights; Fri., Sept. 16, 9 p.m.; $10. (323) 515-9447, pssst.xyz.