This week, one artist installs multiple hand-knitted replicas of himself in a downtown gallery, and another invites visitors to disassemble his sculptures.
When he decided to wreck a 60-foot Real Dairy truck on a Utah highway, artist Jeremy Everett had to get government agencies involved. The road had to be closed for the crash, permits were required and Everett had to convince authorities that all the spilt milk would evaporate quickly. Everett, who refers to the wrecked truck as a “sculpture,” filmed it from above and from the side. The resulting video — projected as part of his exhibition “Double Pour” at Wilding Cran Gallery — recalls aerial news footage of brutal accidents at first. Then after a while the whole thing begins to seem too perfectly composed, too quiet to be an accident at all. The show, which includes photographs and understated paintings, all feels like that: a destructive impulse constantly being tamped down by an urge for order. 939 S. Santa Fe Ave., downtown; through Jan. 9. (213) 453-9000, wildingcran.com.
Boys with beer
Luis Flores’ sculpture Speech Acts consists of four self-portraits of the artist, made to scale with hand-knitted skin, hair and limbs. Each version wears identical jeans, blue shirt, dark socks and light blue sneakers. They’re all bearded, stocky and so lifelike you might mistake them for real from a distance. Two sit on cinderblocks and are either involved in a tussle or about to man-hug. It’s hard to tell. But they’re clearly distracted by the other two sculptures of Flores, which are on all fours on the floor, licking a lifeless, androgynous, badly painted tan body. This is one of a few such tableaux in Flores' current show at Grice Bench, called “Whatever You Want It to Be.” In another, a big blond guy drinks a Budweiser beside a tall skinny guy who’s bleeding from his nose and left eye, about to topple over. Navel-gazing bro culture has gone all wrong. 915 Mateo St., #210, downtown; through Dec. 9. (213) 488-1805, gricebench.com.
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Kissing couples, loaded guns
Adel Abdessemed signs his name vertically, along the right-hand side of all his drawings. Not many artists sign work so prominently anymore, and this gesture, coupled with Abdessemed’s old-fashioned representative style, make his work at Venus Over Los Angeles seem naive at first. There’s a wall full of charcoal drawings of owls, and more endearing animals throughout. But keep looking and the scenes become more charged. The show is called "From Here to Eternity," after the film in which Deborah Kerr kisses Burt Lancaster passionately on the beach, and drawings of couples kissing as if it's the last thing they’ll do appear repeatedly. So do planes. A messenger pigeon has dynamite strapped to its back and two bald figures are about to shoot each other in the head. It’s the most muscular show the newly opened gallery has had in L.A., and the darkest. 601 S. Anderson St., downtown; through Dec. 19. (323) 980-9000, venusovermanhattan.com.
Knocking art over
Everything in Chris Finley’s exhibition at Chimento Contemporary can be touched and moved. Some things can even be thrown. This is particularly surprising given how delicate and carefully arranged the work looks at first glance. Piles of paper balance on white plastic balls near the back wall, and a small black bouncy ball balances atop a leaning sculpture assembled from bits of whittled pencils. This sculpture sits on a waist-high pedestal that has a rope coming out of it, and once you’ve knocked off the bouncy ball and placed the sculpture on the floor, you’ll find that the pedestal opens. Inside is a blue ball tethered to the rope. It’s meant to be swung. So Finley’s delicate-seeming work transforms into a kind of playground — and if you really play, the show could easily look a mess by the time you leave. 622 S. Anderson St., #105, downtown; through Dec. 19. (424) 261-5766, chimentocontemporary.net.
Headlines under water
Dancer and artist Simone Forti wrestles with newspapers on Zuma Beach in one new video in her current exhibition at the Box, "On an Iron Post." Front pages get pulled away by the surf. In another video, projected large in the main gallery, she swims and wades through a murky Minnesota river wrapped in a handmade flag. The 80-year-old Forti, who trained with Martha Graham and has been performing since the 1950s, shakes in the water. But nothing about her performance makes her seem delicate, or self-conscious — instead she’s focused, trying to figure something out about the gap between the political world and the natural one. 805 Traction Ave., downtown; through Jan. 9. (213) 625-1747, theboxla.com.