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Ferocity in Two Flavors

Johanna Went’s show at Track 16 isn’t one particular spectacle, like her famed punk-club blowouts, but a cascade of ’em, a veritable Went’s Greatest Hits — although in this case, all her hits are pretty great. A legendary cross between Paul McCarthy, Karen Finley, the Bread and Puppet Theater and the Energizer Bunny, West confabulates goofy, scary costumes and stuffs them with some very motivated and noisy people, herself not least. This microspective displays many such costumes, along with myriad props, photos and ephemera documenting West’s career as a performance-art firecracker. Old new-wavers will wax nostalgic, but you don’t get much of a sense of the “past” in this show, only of an energy as enduring as it is ferocious.

Danial Nord’s media blitz maintains its own ferocity, but it is light years away from Went’s jump-into-the-audience rawness. Rather, Nord makes you jump into his installations — or peep, in the case of his subtlest but most ambitious piece, Private, several nearly closed doors behind which flash mysterious lights and come the voices of couples arguing. (Cineastes will recognize certain of the dialogues.) But if Private turns Haus into a cheap hotel, Modern Hearth turns its main space into a four-dimensional living room, TV images splattered across the walls by barriers of plexiglass shards. And Mixed Messages turns a smaller room into a control-room-in-reverse, a monitor-cum-diorama dealing with spam — and Spam — in, er, unusual ways. Johanna Went at Track 16, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica; Tues.-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m. plus final performance by Went on Sat., May 19 at 8 p.m. (310) 264-4678. Danial Nord at Haus, 517 S. Sierra Madre Blvd., Pasadena, Thurs.-Sat., noon-5 p.m.; (626) 356-2408. Both thru May 19.

—Peter Frank


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