Discovery of America narratives get a redesign in Echo Park this week, and a video artist known for giving Wonder Woman her due screens work in Chinatown.
5. Same problem, different space
At one point in his 2001 film Habit, artist Gregg Bordowitz sits in bed with a friend wearing a purple and white “I'm HIV-positive” shirt. They're watching television footage of people in South Africa, some in the same shirt, talking about how to prevent HIV-positive mothers from passing the virus to children. Bordowitz, who is interested in how personal experiences and art made by individuals relate to bigger conversations, lectures at the Hammer on opening day of the “Take It or Leave It” show, which he's a part of. 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Wstwd.; Sunday, Feb. 9, 2 p.m. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu.]
4. Imagine we're on the Internet
Marc Horowitz's sculpture A Hit Is a Hit is the first thing you see when you walk into “Too Soon” at Perry Rubenstein Gallery. It consists of the faux-classical bust of a curly-haired man looking over his shoulder. A lint roller sits on top of the curly hair and the bust's shoulders emerge from a large, gray purse. Horowitz has centered all of this in front of a gray-green backdrop. It's a photograph-ready, tasteful mishmash, a scene you can imagine as a JPEG even as you stand in front of it and among the strongest works in a group show of art that straddles physical and digital worlds. 1215 N. Highland Ave., Hlywd.; through March 1. (310) 395-1001, perryrubenstein.com.
3. Discovering America in the basement
Apparently, in the 1550s, some Spaniards had started wishing priest Bartolome de las Casas would die in a shipwreck on his travels back to Chiapas, Mexico. Then in his 70s, the self-described “Protector of the Indians” had taken to criticizing the Spanish court whenever he saw fit. Las Casas will be a character in Tom McKenzie's play, The Ship's Recorder, running for three days in Machine Project's fantastic basement theater. Based on journals of highly entitled “discoverers” of America, including Christopher Columbus and Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, and inspired by Shakespeare's The Tempest, the play includes dreamscapes, human-rights struggles and a shipwreck. 1200-D N. Alvarado St., Echo Park; Thursday, Feb. 6 – Saturday, Feb. 8, 8 p.m.; $20. (213) 483-8761, machineproject.com.
2. Wonder Women in front of the mirror
Before anyone really used the term “feminist video artist,” Dara Birnbaum was one. Her 1978 video Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman strung together found TV footage of Wonder Woman. Her 1979 Kiss the Girls zoomed in on faces of women contestants from 1970s game show Hollywood Squares, in which audience members tried to figure out whether celebrity guests were bluffing. Birnbaum would take subjects out of context, focusing on how they spun in a circle, rolled their eyes or tossed their hair in a way that showed how painfully often women adopt cute, self-effacing poses over assertive ones. She'll screen her work and speak at Human Resources. 410 Cottage Home St., Chinatown; Tuesday, Feb. 11, 7 p.m.; free. (213) 290-4752; humanresourcesla.com.
1. Two sides
Mai-Thu Perret's sculptures always remind me of shag rugs – thick, over-the-top objects that are still somehow entirely fashionable. In her new show, “Astral Plane” at David Kordansky, the glazed wall-hanging growths and the vessels sitting on pedestals, with gnarly nubs next to smooth shining surfaces inside them, contrast with the restrained, hand-woven tapestries and a pristine black donkey of birch and rattan also on view. She's letting loose and holding back at once, and it works. 3143 S. La Cienega Blvd.; through July 6. (310) 558-3030, davidkordanskygallery.com.
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