This week, an obelisk gets covered in handmade bricks, and an artist looks closely at whether Neil Young did or did not have a coke flake on his nose.
5. Family labor
This past spring, artist Michael Parker dug out a trench in the shape of an obelisk along the L.A. River. His obelisk, 137 feet long, replicates an ancient Egyptian archeological site. This weekend, performance artist Rafa Esparza will cover the whole thing with bricks he handmade with his seven family members and he and dancer-choreographer Rebeca Hernandez will perform on top of the bricks at sunset. 2800 Casitas Ave., Cypress Park; Sunday, Aug. 24, 6:45 p.m. (323) 522-6014, clockshop.org.
4. Where's the coke?
There's a story, reported in memoirs and elsewhere, that in 1976, when Martin Scorsese filmed The Band's farewell concert, Neil Young played his hit "Helpless" with a rock of cocaine in his nostril. A drawn-out effort purportedly followed to edit this cocaine out of Scorsese's documentary The Last Waltz. Artist Scott Benzel's installation Magnified / Erased (2014) includes a big, black-and-white image of a cocaine flake blown up to impossible proportions, with a small TV monitor on a cart in front of it playing zoomed-in footage of Young's nose. Something's happening in and around that nose, but it's hard to tell what. The installation is one of the highlights in the genuinely elegant show about history as myth, curated by Eric Kim at Aran Cravey gallery. 6918 Melrose Ave., Hlywd.; through Aug. 30. (323) 591-0036, arancravey.com.
3. Sexy cynics
Gretchen Bender, who died too young in 2004, was obsessed with mass media, mainstream movies included, calling it all a "cannibalistic river." She had a great urge to get out ahead of the current or reroute the river in some way. When she made People in Pain in 1988, she put titles from movies that hadn't come out yet (Full Metal Jacket, Fatal Attraction) on shiny, black sheets of vinyl crinkled so that they looked like trash bags, then lit the title with blue neon from behind. Two parts of People in Pain are in "Bad Influence" at Michael Thibault Gallery, a cynically flashy show of artworks from the 1980s, which proves skepticism can be seductive. 3311 W. Washington Blvd., West Adams; through Aug. 30. (323) 487-1644, michaelthibaultgallery.com.
2. Retro YouTube-ing
Carole Ann Klonarides was a video jockey in the 1970s and '80s. Tom Recchion, who co-founded the experimental Los Angeles Free Music Society, has been making music and art since the '70s. Both worked with reel-to-reel videos and turntables, and they're fascinated by how much less cumbersome it now is to be your own veejay online and by how many old live performances, from well before the Internet existed, now are on YouTube. They're planning a night of experimental YouTube watching in Blum & Poe's parking lot, full of no-wave, punk and art bands. Guests are encouraged to bring blankets to sit on and picnic food. 2727 S. La Cienega Blvd., Culver City; Sat., Aug. 23, 7:30-10 p.m., firstname.lastname@example.org. (310) 836-2062, blumandpoe.com.
1. Affectionately messy
The photographs Motoyuki Daifu took of his family in the tiny Tokyo apartment they all share comprise the debut show at Little Big Man Gallery downtown. The photos are fantastically colorful and casual, like candid shots taken by someone who's a bit more composition-conscious than famously gritty Nan Goldin, far more excited by clutter but no more interested in polish. One photo shows an endless pile of clothes; one has a boy with a bag on his head almost blending into his messy kitchen table surroundings. Daifu calls this series called My Family Is a Pubis, So I Cover It in Pretty Panties, a slightly gross, quirkily poetic, perfectly suited title. 801 Mateo St., dwntwn.; through Aug. 31. littlebigmangallery.com.
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