Five Artsy Things to Do This Week, Including Cough Syrup Spraying to a Justin Bieber Song

Jef Raskin with building blocks he designed, on view at the MAK Center
Jef Raskin with building blocks he designed, on view at the MAK Center
Photo by David Wing

This week, footage about a high-energy collaboration between artists, architects and Pepsi plays at the MAK Center, one artist leads people on a hunt for truth and other intangibles at the Getty and another turns cough syrup into something of a tribute.

5. Art, lies and hashtags

A green vinyl sign above the security desk at the Getty Center asks, "Is a museum for everyone?" Another sign affixed to the floor in the rotunda at the top of the main stairs asks, "Is a museum fun?" These and other questions are part of L.A. artist Sam Durant's #isamuseum project. The idea is that visitors will answer, either on Twitter on their phones, later on the website or by going up to the info desk. You see the question "Is a museum truthful?" while winding down the stairs from the painting galleries, and one visitor answered no because "Truth has nothing to do with art." 1200 Getty Center Drive, Brentwood; through July. (310) 440-7300,

4. Cough syrup graffiti

DJ Screws, who spearheaded the "Chopped and Screwed" hip-hop genre where tracks were slowed way down and beats skipped, died in 2000 of a cough syrup overdose. Ten years later, Romanian programmer Paul Octavian Nasca continued the "Chopped and Screwed" legacy by slowing down Justin Bieber's "U Smile" by 800 percent. In artist Nicolas Lobo's video Grape Syrup Action for Paul Octavian Nasca, Lobo uses a fire extinguisher to spray cough syrup on a white wall while slowed-down Justin Bieber plays. The video screens at Wharton + Espinosa as part of the compellingly eerie group show "The Furthest Distance Between Two Points." 8687 Melrose Ave., W. Hlywd; through June 28. (310) 903-9566,

3. The sympathetic subversive

When Republican Rep. John Boehner and others called for the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery to either cancel or clean up its show "Hide/Seek" three years ago, the Smithsonian agreed to remove one of the most offending works -- David Wojnarowicz's film Fire in My Belly, where ants crawl over Christ on the crucifix -- from the show. But what the politicians didn't realize was how sympathetic that tortured Christ figure is: Nailed to that cross, he couldn't escape the ants if he wanted to. After the Portrait Gallery scandal, the Hammer Museum screened Fire in My Belly repeatedly. Now it's screening a longer, rarer video work Wojnarowicz made in 1989, three years before his death from AIDS, with composer Ben Neill. Called ITSOFOMO, it merges aggression and beauty again and again, like when two men dance intently on a grainy screen as a deep-voiced narrator says, "Blood, memory, war. We rise to meet the state. Smell the flowers while you can." 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Wstwd.; Thurs., May 23, 7:30 p.m. (310) 443-7000,

2. Attack of the TV people

Nam June Paik made video and television seem primitive almost as soon as they were invented. The Korean-American artist, who died in 2006, began working in the 1960s, stacking up televisions and programming them to play specific looped and occasionally frenetic imagery. They looked like totem poles or ancient monuments -- once, he made a Buddha out of TV screens. At the Prospectus in the Pacific Design Center, Paik's Gulliver (2001) is on view. A huge figure with TVs making up his head and limbs lays on the floor while lots of little figures with TV heads climb over him. 8687 Melrose Ave., B226, W. Hlywd; through June.

1. Big, mostly realized dreams

The Great Big Mirror Dome Project was what it sounds like: an ambitious endeavor to build a huge, inflatable mirrored dome with its interior covered in mirrors, so you'd be seeing everyone and everything reflected back at you when you stood inside. The artist group Experiments in Art & Technology (E.A.T.) made it for the 1970 Pepsi-sponsored Osaka World Fair pavilion, along with architects at UCLA's Envirolab. Director Eric Saarinen's intoxicating video of this collaboration plays in "Everything Loose Will Land" at the MAK Center, an exhibition about often overlapping ambitions of L.A. artists and architects. 835 N. Kings Road; through Aug. 4. (323) 651-1510,

Follow me on Twitter at @cgwagley, and for more arts news follow us at @LAWeeklyArts and like us on Facebook.

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Related Locations

The Getty Center

1200 Getty Center Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90049


Mak Center for Art and Architecture

835 N. Kings Rd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069


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