Five Artsy Things to Do in L.A. This Week, Including the Iconoclastic Urs Fischer at MOCA
A still from Kelly Sears's film Once It Started It Could Not End Otherwise (2011)
Courtesy the artist
This week, haunting films about cold-war America play for 15 hours straight on Alvarado and an artist sells cellphone holders that make your phone as unwieldy as one from landline days.
5. Holes in the walls
Urs Fischer, the Swiss artist who stuck a fake tongue out of a hole in the New Museum's wall five years ago, does iconoclastic things in an almost-too-smooth way. He will cut into the Geffen Contemporary's walls for his new show at MOCA and display rough clay sculptures made onsite with the help of about 1,000 local volunteers. The show's opening day will be a multipart affair. Curator Jessica Morgan will speak about working with Fischer, KCHUNG radio will broadcast live and artist Morrisa Maltz, a kind of smooth iconoclast herself, will invite people to have "Mofone Emotional Moments." She'll let them call family or friends using her "Mofones," smartphone holders that look like old-school rotary phone handsets, seashells or tree trunks. 152 N. Central Ave.; Sunday, April 21, noon-5 p.m. (213) 626-6222, moca.org.
4. Fire in the neighborhood
If folk illustrator Grandma Moses collaborated with pop realist David Hockney, the result might look like Eric Ernest Johnson's loosely rendered townscapes and landscapes. His paintings hang all over Here Is Elsewhere gallery at the Pacific Design Center. It's easy to read stories into the work, like the Next Door Neighbor paintings, a number of discrete panels that each depict two beige teepees sitting next to each other, seen from above. The teepees have a smoking firepit between them. In some paintings, the pit is behind the teepees. Other times, it's in front or closer to one than another, evidence of some sort of negotiation between otherwise invisible neighbors. 8687 Melrose Ave., #B222; through May 1. firstname.lastname@example.org, hereiselsewhere.com.
3. Sunrise all day long
That twilight period before the sun is officially up takes around 20 minutes most mornings. Minneapolis-based artist Cameron Gainer's Sunrise/Sunset takes 18 minutes every time. His video installation plays out in a darkened room at Ambach and Rice Gallery, with pink and yellow light shining from a projector with an hourglass in front of its lens. This means, as the black sand slowly sinks, more light comes through. Sunrise/Sunset is in "Rocks & Clocks," a show loosely about time, space and slowness, which includes L.A. artists Mungo Thomson, Emilie Halpern and Mark Hagen. 6148 Wilshire Blvd.; through May 18. (323) 965-5500, ambachandrice.com.
2. What's furniture without a home?
Stephen Prina's show at LACMA, called "As He Remembered It," is full of built-ins -- built-in bookshelves, closets, cabinets, counters. Prina had these made to replicate built-ins from houses built by architect R.M. Schindler in the 1930s. This means they have a spare, midcentury refinement to them -- or, rather, you can imagine that they would have if Prina hadn't severed them from the rooms they were meant to inhabit, spray-painted them honeysuckle pink and grouped them together in the middle of a gallery on the third floor of the museum's BCAM building. Wandering around them feels like navigating some sort of midcentury modern version of the Island of Misfit Toys. 5905 Wilshire Blvd.; through Aug. 4. (323) 857-6010, lacma.org.
1. When the president has bad dreams
"That's when the dreams began," says the calm-voiced narrator of Kelly Sears' 2012 film The Rancher. He is talking about Lyndon B. Johnson, though he never explicitly says so. Sears has collaged together black-and-white photographs of LBJ with real television footage. The images warp and blur and begin to look like a bad dream around the time the narrator tells us about the president's dreams, nightmares that affect him even when he's awake. "His words came out distorted and undefined," the narrator says. "There were always cameras pointed at him and his doughy talk was broadcast into homes across the nation." Always in Sears' films -- rarely over seven minutes and made using stop-motion and digital animation -- some unnamed specter haunts the nation. The found footage and historic imagery she uses make the eerie stories she tells seem surprisingly plausible. During The Day of Speculative Motion at Machine Project in Echo Park, her films screen from morning to midnight. 1200-D N. Alvarado; Sunday, April 21, 9 a.m. (213) 483-8761, machineproject.com.
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