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

Derrick Adams, performance documentation of On
Derrick Adams, performance documentation of On
Courtesy of the artist/Photo by Andy Romer

This week, one artist screens her sexually explicit videos, and two others explore female archetypes in Hollywood, by painting odalisques and exhibiting disembodied female heads.

More for less and one of a kind
“Colorful has taught them that they don’t need a man,” says an actress in artist Derrick Adams’ short film On. “They need Colorful.” The actress holds a cardboard box with the word “Colorful” collaged onto it, and stands on a comically DIY set. A big, fake TV screen made of fabric squares and plastic hangs on the wall behind her. Several actors peddle cardboard boxes in On, pitching their products as if on a morning show or infomercial. They’re enthusiastic if confusing. A girl-guy team peddles “More for Less” by saying it’s just nice sometimes to have more, especially when it's for less. Sometimes, the camera zooms out, Brady Bunch–style, so you can see all the actors with their boxes at once, their perky voices overlapping. In On, which plays on a loop in Adams’ show "Network" at the California African American Museum, all actors are black and their cultural position is ambiguous, because the set is so esoteric and their boxes all seem empty. Regis and Kathie Lee they are not, but what role do they play, exactly? They seem at least to be parodying onscreen consumerism and polish while acknowledging the sincerity of the desire for more, less or whatever. 600 State Drive, Exposition Park; through June 11. (213) 744-7432, caamuseum.org.

Reclining women
Ann Hirsch drew directly on the wall for “Private Residence,” her solo show in Steve Turner’s project gallery. Along one wall, a pastel-colored garden transitions into a sea of naked bodies mingling with social media iconography. Facebook’s new message bubble floats above a women whose arms and legs are bound. An Instagram icon hovers beside a chain of three gender-ambiguous bodies hanging on for dear life — the first body has one arm on a ledge, the second holds the first’s hand and the third holds the second by the ankle. It’s all very precarious and full. On top of the wall drawings, Hirsch has hung a series of large horizontal paintings of reclining, curvy female nudes, posed just like the sensuous women in revered old master paintings (think Titian’s Venus of Urbino from 1538 or Ingres’ Grande Odalisque from 1814). Her figures have multicolored eyes and almost haggard features. They’re too distracted, perhaps, by the scenes on the wall behind them to be sultry and voluptuous in an old-fashioned way. 6830 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; through April 29. (323) 460-6830, steveturner.la.

Confined faces
“Heads and Gates,” painter Becky Kolsrud’s current show at Tif Sigfrids, contains exactly what the title suggests. Paintings of female heads, cut out so that the panels are the size and shape of faces with necks, hang along one wall. On the opposite wall hang two paintings on rectangular canvases of female heads visible through the diamond-shaped openings in red and blue gates. One olive-colored woman has green leaves growing over her made-up, starlet face. Another yellow-skinned woman has two faces right up next to each other, as if Kolsrud tried depicting her one way, tried again and then left both versions for us to see (this is, according to the press release, indeed what she did). A dark-skinned face has immense, watery eyes. The heads seem more like objects than people, a diverse collection of female archetypes that the artist is using to try to understand what femininity did and can look like. 1507 Wilcox Ave., Hollywood; through April 16. (323) 907-9200, tifsigfrids.com.

Condom dodger
Every night of “Indecent Exposure,” artist Margie Schnibbe’s 10-day show at Human Resources, invited artists will stage performances in the more intimate, upstairs galleries. Kim Yi, who has explored S&M in past performances, and Shelley Holcomb (Whits n Giggles) are among the participants. Downstairs, Schnibbe, who has worked as a dominatrix and a production designer for Hustler Video, will screen a series of sexually explicit videos she has made since the early 1990s. Many are comical, if uncomfortable. In Bareback Ph.D., two dogs rough house and then hump in dirt while a male voice reads a letter about “having an erection ever so hesitantly” and discusses “the condom thing” (basically, he doesn’t want to use one, but expresses this with many words and much hedging). 410 Cottage Home St., Elysian Park; through April 23. humanresourcesla.com.

The wrong tree
Saudi Arabian artist Abdulnasser Gharem wore a plastic bag over his body in 2007 as he traversed his hometown for his performance Flora and Fauna. He also carried a leafy green tree with him as his only source of oxygen. This particular tree had been imported from Australia and was having adverse effects on local plants, and thus served as a good dialogue starter, since people who saw his strange performance already had opinions about his air source. Also a lieutenant in the Royal Saudi Arabian Army, Gharem has done work about the international political situation in the years since Sept. 11 — two of the 19 Saudi Arabians in those planes that day had been his classmates. He will screen video work and talk about his practice this week at LACMA in advance of his soon-to-open solo show there. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Tue., Apr 18, 7:30 p.m.; free. lacma.org.


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