This week, an L.A. painter remembers a Hollywood murder, underwear dangles from the ceiling in a gallery in Leimert Park, and artists discuss how to get paid.
In 1993, artist Andrea Fraser noticed a “sudden rush of exhibitions” requiring artists to do extra work. Sometimes artists were asked to make advertisements or write promotional texts for these shows. Sometimes they received little or no payment. Fraser attempted to grapple with these problems in 1994, with a show she co-organized with curator Helmut Draxler at the Kunstraum Lüneburg in Germany. They called the show “Services,” and artists participated in a few working-group conversations before the show opened, hashing out ideas on how to be better compensated for their labor. This weekend, Fraser, Draxler and a number of L.A. based artists and writers will re-perform those working-group sessions, reading from the original transcripts and then discussing their own experiences as laborers. 7000 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; Sun., April 3, 3 p.m.. (323) 871-4140, laxart.org.
Nostalgia for a violent past
For “Wonderland Avenue,” her current show at MAMA Gallery, Ariana Papademetropoulos built a replica of a teen girl's bedroom. The room evokes the 1970s with its mod furniture and bright yellow walls, and a checkerboard on the carpet has lipstick tubes for pieces. Visitors can enter it by stepping through a perfect oval portal cut into a wall. Portals are a motif in Papademetropoulos’ paintings, too. In Another Picnic, an image of a cool, minimal kitchen has a hole in the middle of it that reveals colorful people on a beach somewhere. In Angel of Disobedience, an ethereal expanse of pastel colors breaks open to give a glimpse of what must be a kinky sex scene. Papademetropoulos was inspired by unsolved murders that took place in 1981 in Laurel Canyon — four were killed, possibly by a porn star — though her paintings favor stylized glamour over sordidness. 1242 Palmetto St., downtown; through April 23. (213) 256-0036, mama.gallery.
Messages on pantyhose
Underwear, slips and camisoles hang from the ceiling of Papillion Gallery right now as part of New York–based British artist Zoe Buckman’s “Every Curve” installation. The lingerie have hip-hop lyrics embroidered into them: “I swear I’ll never call you bitch” or “Do we hate our women?” Mannequin legs stand on tip-toe beneath the hanging items, wearing pantyhose that also has messages stitched into the fabric: “I used to do stick-ups cuz Hoes is irritating like the hiccups.” With this work, Buckman brings together her love for hip-hop and her fierce feminism, two strains of her identity that often seem at odds. As a result, the show is in-your-face and blurry at the same time. “I swear I’ll never call you bitch” could very well be a false promise. 4336 Degnan Blvd., Leimert Park; through April 30. (323) 642-8402, papillionart.com.
Discomfort on purpose
In recent performances, Gracie DeVito has broken through a wall (because if she didn't “go through a wall,” she’d “always wonder what it might have been like”) and had herself delivered to a gallery wrapped in a Persian rug. Raw spontaneity and unruliness are key to her approach. She will perform at Human Resources this week with artists Anya Liftig and Samuel White. Liftig often puts herself in intentionally uncomfortable situations (she spread Cheez Whiz on her legs, sprinkled Parmesan over her body and placed a stick of butter on her chest during her performance Ditties for the Dirty War). The last time I saw a performance by White, two dancers were entwined on the floors and White revealed personal information about them while I watched. It’s not clear what the three of them will do, but uncertainty is part of the experience. 410 Cottage Home St., Chinatown; Tue., April 5, 8 p.m. (213) 290-4752, humanresourcesla.com.
LACMA and the Getty Center have been planning “Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium” for the past few years, ever since the two institutions jointly acquired the late photographer's archive in 2011. Mapplethorpe — known as much for his harsh S&M photographs as for his lush images of lilies and portraits of celebrities — had a fantastically diverse oeuvre. The shows at the Getty and LACMA give a good sense of that diversity. In fact, Mapplethorpe’s work feels almost eclectic. At LACMA, a 1970 shrine he sculpted of found objects, including a tablecloth and a Jesus figurine, stands in gallery two. Then there are the many portraits of his muses, Patti Smith and bodybuilder Lisa Lyon, and the ephemera laid out in vitrines, like the note in which model Colin Streeter asks Mapplethorpe to please not publish any photos of him without checking first. Through July 31. LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; (323) 857-6000, lacma.org. The Getty, 1200 Getty Center Drive, Brentwood; (310) 440-7300, getty.edu.