5 Free Art Shows to See in L.A. This Week

Still from Mathis Gasser's In the Museum I (2011-2012)EXPAND
Still from Mathis Gasser's In the Museum I (2011-2012)
Courtesy of the artist

This week, a priestess curses an artist's materials and another artist remembers the store-bought hen he buried 38 years ago. 

Zombie blood
In Mathis Gasser's film In the Museum, a Christopher Walken action figure peruses pristine art galleries — or, rather, he tries to but zombies keep attacking him. With the help of artworks that become fleetingly animated, little plastic Walken kills his attackers off one by one, leaving a trail of blood that sort of looks like it’s part of the art. Gasser’s film appears in "A Stranger in My Grave," a show that roving venture Evergreene Studio organized at Four Six One Nine. Also in the show is a recreation of Blinky, the frozen chicken that artist Jeffrey Vallance gave a proper burial in 1978, and Liz Craft’s life-size fiberglass sculpture of a fairy woman laid out on a pink couch. 4619 W. Washington Blvd., Mid-City; through Aug. 31. foursixonenine.tumblr.com.

Girls doing things
In Carmen Winant’s "Pictures of Women Working" at Skibum MacArthur, an uninterrupted line of framed collages runs along the gallery walls. The collages consist mostly of vintage photographs of women: women on football teams, nursing, giving birth, digging holes, climbing mountains, laughing or posing. Looking is appealing in the same way flipping through some vintage collection of Life magazines is, except that Winant has made the experience more focused. Since so many of the images are "pretty," the viewer can become preoccupied with prettiness and femininity, even though the things the women are doing have nothing to do with looks at all. 7I2 S. Grand View St. #204, Westlake; through Oct. 29. skibummacarthur.net.

Alone with the exit signs
Only one person at a time can see French artist Loris Greaud’s film Sculpt in LACMA’s Bing Theater, which can seat up to 600. The lone viewer is led by an attendant to an empty chair in the middle of the screening room. (The chairs around it have been moved away.) The film, which lasts just under 50 minutes, is black, white and red, a color that matches the exit signs that glow inside the otherwise dark theater. The film pays romantic, heavy homage to lots of different things — Voodoo, punk, existential crises, cultural rituals and Care Bears — though mostly it’s about itself. A priestess does a ritual, cursing rolls of film that will later be used to shoot footage the viewer is watching. At one point, actress Charlotte Rampling is wearing a Grumpy Bear suit, though she looks so esoteric, you might not make the cartoon connection. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; undetermined duration, reservations made at 9 a.m. each day the museum is open. (323) 857-6010, lacma.org.

Roasting Ruscha
Ed Ruscha, L.A.’s own pop-art darling, has a history of being literal. In 1962, he made a book called Twentysix Gasoline Stations and it was exactly what the title implied: a book with 26 photographs of 26 gas stations inside of it. In 1964, he made a book called Various Small Fires, featuring images of flames coming out of lighters. In 1966, he made a book called Every Building on the Sunset Strip, which pictured every building on the Strip. Other artists quickly started spoofing him. Bruce Nauman made a book called Burning Small Fires, for which he photographed himself burning Ruscha’s book of lighter flames. An impressive array of Ruscha’s books and many, many spoofs fill Gagosian Gallery currently. Some Loser’s Apartment pays homage to Ruscha’s Some Los Angeles Apartments. Another book shows gas stations that have fallen in on themselves. 456 N. Camden Drive, Beverly Hills; through Sep. 9. (310) 271-9400, gagosian.com.

Dancing about antiquities
In her fantastic 1977 essay on the Getty Villa’s garishness, Joan Didion described the Getty’s famous antiquities collection as evoking not ancient times but the 18th and 19th century rage for old things. The collection was, in other words, about wanting and owning other mysterious cultures. Choreographer Taisha Paggett and sound artist Yann Novak developed a performance for the Villa about how blackness relates to antiquities. Both Novak and Paggett make seductive work with political edge, and they will perform all day long Saturday, navigating the museum’s campus as visitors come and go. 17985 Pacific Coast Hwy., Pacific Palisades; Sat., Aug. 27, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. (310) 440-7300, getty.edu.

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