The California Institute of the Arts is, how shall we say, atypical in its educational approach. Students don’t receive traditional grades, for example; they can enroll in a dozen courses at a time; and sometimes they wander in and out of classrooms at will. And they work incredibly hard. Go figure. A downsized version of the Museum of Modern Art’s massive “Tomorrowland” survey of films and videos made by CalArts grads, REDCAT’s “Fragments From a Lover’s Discourse” captures this CalArts enigma, demonstrating a mix of anarchy and rigor in a series of works that defy easy summation. There’s a great feminist tradition here, including Ilene Segalove’s The Mom Tapes,a series of hilarious and poignant portraits of the artist’s bored suburban mom whose knowledge base extends from appliances to shopping. Animation figures prominently, covering a full spectrum of forms. The scratchy scribble of J.J. Villard’s Son of Satan is an adaptation of a brutal Bukowski story about bullies, using harsh lines, stabs of red ink and a childlike drawing style to convey fear, violence and raw, ugly power. Animus,by Gary Schwartz, combines rotoscoping and xerography to revisit early films by Thomas Edison and photographs by Eadweard Muybridge, placing those historic moving images within new moving-image contexts. There are also experimental features, such as Erik Saks’ enigmatic Forevermore: Biography of a Leach Lord, a rich allegory in which the life story of a toxic-waste handler says all you need to know about America in the ’80s. The four-day affair is a rich, sprawling showcase, with a little of everything — except the conventional — stirred into the mix. REDCAT at Disney Hall, W. Second & Hope sts., dwntwn.; Thurs.-Sun., Oct. 5-8. (213) 237-2800 or www.redcat.org.
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