This week, a high-energy artist digs into social-media power relations, and another artist gets clean.
5. Ahead of his time
James Ensor was a perfectly respectable painter — until suddenly he wasn't. Halfway through the 1880s, the Belgian artist who had been depicting well-dressed ladies in muted parlors started painting politicians pooping on their people and mobs in grotesque masks. The irreverent work, on view now in a fantastic show at the Getty, looks as if it could have been made now, and two contemporary artists — Tom Knechtel, whose art is sexual and theatrical, and Laurie Lipton, who riffs on historic greats — will talk about his influence. 1200 Getty Center Drive, Brentwood; Thursday, Aug. 7, 7 p.m. (310) 440-7300, getty.edu.
4. Art gallery rec room
An artist who pays a lot of attention to things such as cans and empty bottles, Berlin-based Manfred Pernice has spent most of his career bringing together disparate objects in orderly but nonsensical installations. At Regen Projects right now, his installation "Bbreiland" feels like a mix between a worn office and a basement rec room. The sandbox-sized pink crate with steps and a rug built into it is among the best parts. 6750 Santa Monica Blvd.; through May 11. (310) 276-5424, regenprojects.com.
3. Who rules Twitter?
Devin Kenny's work is often best when he's part of it. The artist who has posted status updates on LED screens in Chelsea and imagined Kid Cudi as a needy nerd and played him in a homemade video has an installation of high-tech and low-tech ideas at the Hammer right now and will be performing this week. The performance, about power relations in social media, has a heady mouthful of a title, In the Cloud / On the Ground: The Affective Space of Our Telecommunication Environment. But it probably will be pretty fast-paced and should include VJing, DJing and spoken-word performance. 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Wstwd.; Tuesday, Aug. 5, 7:30 p.m. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu.
2. How does Costco make you feel?
When Aaron Garber Maikovska went to Costco in Temecula, he did strange, assembly line–like motions among the merchandise with a focused expression on his face, like a mime in jeans and a baseball cap. Outside a vacant shop, near a big gray pillar, he did different motions, this time more like a modern dancer mimicking architecture. There's something charming about the video of these performances, on view in Fahrenheit's show "The Space Between Us," because you get the sense that he's trying hard to figure out how these overbuilt suburban places make him feel, even if it makes him look like an oddball in public. 2245 E. Washington Blvd., dwntwn; through Sept. 27. fahrenheit.flaxfoundation.org.
1. Journey to cleanliness
The Mistake Room's current show, an installation by New York–based Korakrit Arunanondchai, is a timed experience — it takes about 20 minutes from start to finish. When you arrive, you're led into a viewing room, where you watch a film in which the artist, played by the performer Boychild, explains that he used to cover himself in paint but now he's clean. Then an attendant wearing all white leads you into the next room, where an army of white-clad mannequins flank a fountain with a bar of soap, held by a floating hand and lit from above, at its center. Then you watch another film detailing the artist's journey, which seems to have happened in about two days, from dirty, self-obsessed, drugged-out expressive painter to clean ascetic. That it's a mash-up of different genres and sensibilities (abstract expressionism, New Age, sci-fi, music videos, slacker art and hi-fi) and that it's half spoof and half serious makes it worth thinking about. 1811 E 20th St., dwntwn.; through Sept. 13. (213) 749-1200, tmr.la.
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