This week, watermelon shatters across a clean hallway in a Beijing artist's film, and a group of badass female athletes leaves odd marks across museum walls.
Hilltop sound experiment
Initially a sculptor, Japanese-born artist Yoshi Wada began his sound performances in the 1970s. He learned to play bagpipes and made his own instruments with reeds, pipes and an air compressor, naming one such instrument “the Elephantine Crocodile” and recording himself playing it in an empty swimming pool. Tom Johnson, a former critic for The Village Voice, said that visual spectacle was always a key part of the Wada experience. This weekend, the artist and his son, composer Tashi Wada, play at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook. They'll be joined by two bagpipers, Megan Kenney and John Allan, and artist-percussionist Corey Fogel. 6300 Hetzler Road, Culver City; Sun., Sept. 27, 5 p.m. (323) 960-5723, sassas.org.
Oversized feminist frog
A big, gray froglike creature with antennae crouches in the dimly lit first room of Ghebaly Gallery, where it takes up a significant portion of Candice Lin’s installation. Under the creature are furry pink carpets and a small, lit candle. You could crawl down there, probably, and host a pow-wow or séance. The rest of Lin’s show — the collages on the wall, the spinning disc in an adjacent room — feels medicinal and spiritual. But the texts and organic remedies referenced are gender-bending or violently feminist, such as a bacteria to reduce the number of men. 2245 E. Washington Blvd., downtown; through Oct. 24. (323) 282-5187, ghebaly.com.
Patchwork with purpose
It’s always hard to put a finger on exactly what makes Rebecca Morris’ work so disarming, though attitude is a big part of it. Her paintings at 356 Mission recall patchwork quilts, but the kind only a grandma who’s as tastefully precise as she is eccentric would make. Zig-zags, red-brown lightening bolts, dots and grids all come together as if togetherness is the only reasonable option. 356 S. Mission Road, downtown; through Nov. 1. (323) 609-3162, 356mission.com.
Dangerous love of Norman Mailer
Artist Matthew Barney’s six-hour epic film River of Fundament is romantic, impressive, very male, full of esoteric bathroom humor and an ordeal to sit through. It was, after all, inspired by wife-beating, fight-picking novelist Norman Mailer, whose exes had more incriminating things to say about him then even Barney’s ex, Björk, has to say about him. The film is playing continuously at MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary, but the most seductive attraction in the galleries is the sculpture, big, expensive things that undoubtedly took a crew to make. All inspired by the film, some look like ruins, others like weapons. There’s also an uneven line of graphite that stops and starts along the gallery walls. That was made before the show opened, when a group of female athletes convened at MOCA, wearing black SWAT-team-meets-volleyball-team costumes, and pulled a 500-pound slab of graphite around on sleds. 152 N. Central Ave., downtown; through Jan. 18. (213) 626-6222, moca.org.
In Beijing-based artist Cao Fei’s zombie film, Haze and Fog, a pregnant woman in a polka dot dress dances in grocery store aisles and a young delivery man drops and breaks a watermelon in a slick apartment hallway. Later, the same delivery man returns with a box full of bouncy balls that look like watermelons, drops all those too, then leaves. A biker hit by a car becomes a listless-seeming zombie. All the vignettes in the film, showing at the Mistake Room, are eerily compelling, whether you do or don’t sit through the film’s 45-minute duration. 1811 E. 20th St., downtown; through Nov. 21. (213) 749-1200, tmr.la.