This week, an artist-run conference deals with that nagging question — can art bring about change? — and a performance group finds inspiration in blog posts by survivors.
5. Slow acclimation
Jorge Pardo’s exhibition at 1301 PE has been changing since it opened in November. First, hanging red and green lamps were constructed and hung in the gallery’s upstairs room. The day I visited, the gallery staff was installing a series of puzzle-like, painted wood cutouts on the back wall of that same room. Pardo debuted this show last year in Havana, where he was born but hadn't visited in more than four decades. It was like slowly reorienting himself to an environment that had become unfamiliar. The L.A. version is now fully installed and on view for one last week. 6150 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; through Jan. 17. (323) 938 5822, 1301pe.com.
4. Beneath the veil
Two small collages by Emir Šehanovi? hang on the back wall of CES Contemporary, part of the group show “When It Is Dark Enough.” Šehanovi? cut open vintage photographs of veiled women, so you just see the contour of the women’s bodies and enough of their clothing to understand they’re exquisitely dressed. Then you see layers of paper and textured, fleshy terrains — probably cropped landscape photographs — at the center, where the women’s faces and torsos should be. They're simple but precise. 709 & 711 Mateo St., dwntwn.; through Jan. 24. (949) 370-0554, carlesmithgallery.com.
3. Cheese grater?
The façade of the Broad Museum, which has been hidden by scaffolding for the past year and a half, is now completely visible on Grand Avenue. It’s heavier and more opaque then original plans for an ambitious “honeycomb” veil. Curbed L.A. called the design changes “disappointing”; art critic Christopher Knight posted a photograph of the building above an image of a cheese grater (the museum’s design has been compared to a grater since at least 2012, but the comparison is more apt now). Maybe the building’s new look is less ephemeral than expected, but it does make Bunker Hill weirder and it kind of makes aggressive Disney Hall look more elegant. It’s worth driving by. 221 S. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; ongoing. (310) 399-4004, thebroad.org.
2. Flickering screens
In “Rhetoric,” the current show at Aran Cravey, snippets of commercials and sitcoms flicker across the HD TV that Martine Syms, who refers to herself as a conceptual entrepreneur rather than an artist, installed on two poles at the center of the main room. In the adjacent room, Jibade-Khalil Huffman has layered clips from feature films, projecting them on an angled partition and two parts of the longest wall. Novelist-essayist James Baldwin lectures in a film by Marco Braunschweiler in the small back screening room. Only Baldwin’s white silhouette is visible against the pitch-black background. Intellectualism and pop mingle throughout the exhibition, and the screen vacillates between disorienting and seductive. 6918 Melrose Ave., Hlywd.; through Jan. 24. (323) 590-0036, arancravey.com.
1. All about change
“Chats About Change: Critical Conversations on Art and Politics in Los Angeles” is a two-day event organized by artists Elana Mann and Robby Herbst. The program kicks off Thursday with a reception in the student union at Cal State L.A. and a discussion about how to navigate L.A.’s landscapes in ecologically conscious ways. The rest of the chats, which have titles such as “How Can I Participate?” and “Creative Dissonance,” take place on Saturday at LACE in Hollywood. Panelists are mostly L.A.-based and blurring art-activism or art-life boundaries, and attendees will have a chance to weigh in. 5154 State University Drive, Student Union, 3rd floor, San Gabriel Room, East L.A.; Thu., Jan. 15, 6 p.m. 6522 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Sat., Jan. 17, 10 a.m.-6:35 p.m. chatsaboutchangela.org.
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