This week, an artist locks audiences into an escape room in Echo Park, and a collective probes the culture of silence on a college campus.
Dance for the camera
In Absence: A History, the performance to be staged by choreographer Alexx Schilling at Pieter, dancers re-create photographs, acting them out or physically arranging them onstage. They’re trying to fill in gaps in Schilling’s memory, to tell more than the images can. It's a twist on the conventional performance-photography relationship. Usually, photographs document dance. Here, dance augments them. 420 W. Avenue 33, Unit 10, Lincoln Heights; Sat., Nov. 14, 8:30 p.m.; admission with donation to the free bar or boutique. pieterpasd.com.
Who's your daddy?
If you know Gary Indiana’s incisive political writing, and have admired the way it combines personality and precision, you might be surprised by the slapdash feel of his show in 356 S. Mission’s basement. The 65-year-old writer-artist has interspersed photos and silent films on the walls. One film shows a man in a black shirt walking back and forth obsessively, looking disturbed and unkempt. Watching this feels voyeuristic, but there’s tenderness in Indiana’s treatment of his subjects. The show resembles diary excerpts, a record of things that moved the artist. His taste tends toward the mundanely crude. One of the best images is of a “Who’s Your Daddy?” van, a mobile paternity test station. 356 S. Mission, downtown; through Dec. 24. (323) 609-3162, 356mission.com.
The set for artist Patrick Michael Ballard’s current project at Machine Project, “Return to Foreverhouse,” recalls Sesame Street or some other live-action children’s show. Essentially an escape room in which audience members are locked for an hour, the set’s props are cartoonish and anthropomorphic. Characters come out of walls. And the plot is childish too: You’re asked to look for presents, or pull on flowers. Characters speak in that overly theatrical way you might use with a 5-year-old, and you do sometimes feel infantilized — especially when you’re singing “Happy Birthday” to a masked man in a wall, in hopes of getting a clue to how to escape. If the plot had been imbued with more adult humor, or its childishness pushed to abject extreme, the experience would have felt edgier. But maybe the trick is to come with edgy friends. 1200-D N. Alvarado, Echo Park; through Dec. 14; $15. (213) 483-8761, machineproject.com.
Force and co-dependence
When artist-writer Miranda July profiled Rihanna for The New York Times last month, she wanted to ask the singer about “being a young black woman with power in America.” But it seemed “somehow wrong.” July skirted around the question, but Rihanna answered it directly anyway, saying that when she did “business deals,” she felt judged for her race and attractiveness. “People can assume something about me without knowing me, just by my packaging.” An excerpt of this profile appears in the collective CamLab’s current show at Occidental College, in a binder labeled “Co-dependence.” At the opening last week, visitors were welcome to stand on a podium and read from that binder, or from another labeled “Force.” Life-size cutouts of CamLab’s members, Anna Mayer and Jemima Wyman, dressed in lush fabric but posed like sentinels, flank the podiums. The show also includes a feminist library and a miniature archive of art about rape. It’s worth noting that Occidental has been plagued by rape scandals in recent years. The show is meant to be a tender space that encourages questions that make us nervous. 1600 Campus Road, Eagle Rock; through Jan. 17. (323) 259-2500, oxy.edu/oxyarts.
Collectors Iris and Gerald Cantor gave LACMA the sculptures in the museum’s Auguste Rodin Sculpture Garden back in the mid-1980s. The L.A. couple had amassed about 750 romantic, figurative sculptures by the French master over the years, an incredible and disputed number. Apparently, many of the sculptures had been made without the artist’s involvement or after the artist’s death. Interested in Rodin’s “inauthenticity,” artist Liz Glynn hosted a group sculpting marathon in the garden two years ago. Artists made freehand clay replicas of Rodin’s work, and now those replicas have been cast in bronze and installed in the yard beside the Resnick Pavilion, near the museum's parking garage elevator. The figures are elongated in places and flattened in others, together the ghostly, ghoulish version of a Rodin garden. They’re both phonier and more authentic than the original. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; through May 22. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org.