This week, a robotic replica of an artist answers touch questions, and a Hollywood video show features a bluish monster and a mystery ship.
Body in a pile
Dancer Silas Reiner was a member of Merce Cunningham’s revered dance company from 2007 to 2011, the last four years it existed. Since Cunningham was a key artist and teacher at Black Mountain College (1933), the unconventional art school at the center of the Hammer’s current exhibition, Reiner will perform one of Cunningham’s early works in the galleries this weekend. Cunningham initially performed The Changeling wearing red tights and a red skullcap. Also this weekend, dancer Polly Motley will perform The Glyph, a satirical number composed by Black Mountain teacher Katherine Litz. When she originally danced it, Litz sheathed herself in a tube of fabric and at one point collapsed in an “inelegant pile.” 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Fri.-Sun., March 18-20, noon and 2 p.m. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu.
Sordid sunset fantasy
Alex Israel, an artist who always wears sunglasses and frequently paints sunsets, and Bret Easton Ellis, the novelist known for crass renderings of L.A. life, collaborated for the current show at Gagosian Gallery. If you’ve followed either of them, the work will not surprise you. Canvases are large, filling walls of the large galleries. They depict skylines, beachscapes and palm trees. The bits of text printed across them in all caps mine stereotypes of stardom, existential despair and traffic jams. The words superimposed against a misty, dusky view of palm-studded hills tell us of a woman racing across the PCH “through traffic, shifting gears, thinking: ‘I’m so fucked.’” 356 N. Camden Drive, Beverly Hills; through April 23. (310) 271-9400, gagosian.com.
Robot with answers
Throughout the week at Coagula Gallery, Emma Sulkowicz will stand on a pedestal right beside a second pedestal, on which a robotic replica of her, the Emmatron, stands. Visitors may talk to either, though they have to refrain from touching the “art.” The pre-programmed, robotic Emma answers questions the artist does not wish to engage or that she became exhausted by during her Carry That Weight performance, which saw Sulkowicz continuously carry around a mattress in protest of Columbia University's treatment of her sexual assault case. She was written about and discussed widely then, often without her direct involvement. Here she has more control over the conversation. And though she leaves L.A. this weekend, the Emmatron will remain. 974 Chung King Road, Chinatown; through April 3. (424) 226-2485,coagulacuratorial.com.
Alien in the yard
An odd, bluish monster with many nostrils wanders through an urban neighborhood in Christopher Richmond’s gorgeously shot alien fantasy, Rendezvous. An asteroid is about to hit Earth in the film, and the cast — which includes Richmond, who has a head of distinctive curls and only ever wears flip-flops — sort of hovers in a state of expectation. The other film in L.A.-based Richmond’s show at Moskowitz Bayse is 2015's Panthalassa, set on an undulating ship during an all-night voyage. At one point, an eccentric character enters a state of rapture while playing a synthesizer. 743 N. La Brea Ave., Hollywood; through April 23. (323) 790-4882, moskowitzbayse.com.
The real deal
The Los Angeles Poverty Department, or the “other LAPD,” has existed for 30 years now, ever since artist John Malpede moved to Los Angeles and decided to found a performance group on Skid Row. The LAPD’s current exhibition at the Armory, “Do you want the cosmetic version or the real deal? Los Angeles Poverty Department, 1985-2016,” includes ample documentation of performances the group has done over decades. Go when you have time to stay a while. In one film, an exotic dancer pulsates under colored lights, staying pretty while talking about sexual harassment. In another film from the late 1980s Sunshine Mills, Frank Christian and Javiar Serrano give a tour of Skid Row. They’re in a hulking sedan and they slow down next to a store called the Right Man. Sunshine tells us how hard-up guys will put in 10-hour days of sweaty work for the man who runs this place, all for a $7.33 IOU they have to cash at a bar down the road. So most end up drinking away their paltry wages. 145 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena; through May 15. (626) 792-5101, armoryarts.org.