This week, homing pigeons interfere with LCD signs on the I-10, one artist takes narcissism to virtuosic heights and another imagines China bringing the United States to its knees.
5. Soccer as endurance art
“You can't be surprised by a good-looking girl playing ball once, maybe twice,” says a guy in Germany, who's on camera after playing pick-up soccer with filmmaker Gwen Oxenham, “but not for two hours. … Trip her, do anything.” Oxenham does get tripped in Pelada, the film she made with former Duke classmate Luke Boughen. They traveled to 25 countries, playing pick-up soccer in each. Oxenham wrote a memoir about the experience, and she'll read from it at Human Resources on Saturday. She'll appear near the end of the daylong “Soccer Congress,” which begins with a survey on soccer in contemporary art and ends with the screening of Hellmuth Costard's 1970 film Fussball Wie Noch Nie, a gorgeous but painfully slow experiment in which multiple cameras focus only on Manchester United star George Best as he paces, thinks, stares and occasionally kicks the ball. 410 Cottage Home St.; Sat., Sept. 22, 2-10 p.m.; free. (213) 290-4752; humanresourcesla.com.
4. China conquers America
In Federico Solmi's films at Luis de Jesus Gallery, each scene looks like a precocious kid's color-crayon masterpiece. Yellow, red and army green dominate in these narratives, which take a growing American fear — that China will, or has, surpassed us in brains, money and power — to its garish outer limits. A Chinese demagogue uses everything he's learned from U.S. capitalists to invade and conquer the nation. Soon, the world is an uninhabitable land of flashing signs and commercial billboards and life as we know it comes to an end. 2685 S. La Cienega Blvd.; through Oct. 20. (310) 838-6000, luisdejesus.com.
3. A psychoanalyst's hairdresser
Jacques Lacan's hairdresser, Karolos Kambelopoulos, sat for an interview in 2008. “I used to like his hair,” said Kambelopoulos of the famed psychoanalyst. “And with his hair I was able to make a style that would fit with his face and with his body and with his mind, but he was very narcissistic.” At parties, Lacan's main aim seemed to Kambelopoulos to be making sure everyone liked him and knew he was important. Friedrich Kunath's Blum and Poe show is called “Lacan's Haircut.” It's full of leaking colors, paintings with illustrations of animals layered on top of abstract landscapes, oversized sculptures of men's shoes and a film of an artist painfully, lyrically hitting tennis balls against his paintings and slaving poetically over his art. The whole show takes itself far too seriously and knows it, but its self-involvement is so complete and competent that it's awe-inspiring. 2727 S. La Cienega Blvd.; through Oct. 27. (310) 836-2062, blumandpoe.com.
2. Homing pigeons for the digital age
Artist Seth Weiner equipped 6 homing pigeons with devices he built and programmed to receive signals from designated Twitter accounts. The pigeons, trained to return to their loft, would fly along an L.A. freeway, and whenever one of them flew within 10 to 15 feet of one of those LED information signs, its device would interfere with the sign's feed. The most recent tweet from the designated account then would show up on the signs, so one sign said “Beirut Graffiti.” Another said, “Every time a newscaster says #PussyRiot an angel gets its wings.” Photos of these signs appear in the show “Seth Weiner at Venice 6114 Curated by Sergio Bromberg.” Four of the birds live at 6114 Projects intermittently right now, too. 6114 Venice Blvd.; through Oct. 8. venice6114.com.
1. Better than Aliens
Artist Ed Ruscha says the first time he saw his friend Ken Price's ceramics, with weird, fingerlike things poking out of sleekly painted orifices, he wanted to crawl up the wall. But he knew they were brilliant. Ruscha spoke at a memorial for Price, who died in February, held right before the opening of LACMA's Ken Price retrospective. The art in the retrospective does feel somehow creepy, like something out of an absurdist-comedy version of Ridley Scott's Aliens, only way better. There's a table near the back with small sculptures called Specimens, like the one with what looks like a red hot dog popping out of its pink shell. These are particularly vulnerable and valuable, so if you get too close, the table's set up to screech at you. On opening night, people couldn't help themselves, and the screeching became a soundtrack. 5905 Wilshire Blvd.; through Jan. 27. (323) 857-6010, lacma.org.