This week, artist and sunglasses designer Alex Israel debuts the talk show he shot in the Pacific Design Center, trombonists perform in a downtown art space, and fringe physicists reinvent gravity.
5. They're a collective, not a choir
The trombone is purportedly the brass instrument with a range closest to the human voice — it's like a Southern preacher, only “with greater amplitude,” said poet James Weldon Johnson. It's also one of the oldest instruments. “Trombone choirs” are old things, too, with centuries' worth of arrangements made just for them. But because the Los Angeles Trombone Collective is expressly not a choir, it avoids all of this. Its members favor retooled trombone solos or music not meant for trombone at all. This weekend, at alt-art space the Wulf, the collective will interpret John Cage and debut new live trombone electronica. 1026 S. Sante Fe Ave., #203, dwntwn.; Sat., May 19, 7:30 p.m. (213) 488-1182, thewulf.org.
4. Do blonds have more fun?
Joan Didion's 1970 novel Play It As It Lays has an aimless protagonist who spends too much time on freeways and has flings with minor Hollywood actors. Alex Israel's new film As It Lays, a series of short portraits of L.A. icons with an early-'90s aesthetic, isn't aimless exactly, but it's free-form and languid. In it, Israel asks innocuous questions: “Do blonds have more fun?” “If you could have any superpower…?” But he gets Larry Flynt to talk about what he'd do if he were dictator for a day and Rosanna Arquette to admit she's seen ghosts. The film debuts at the Henson Soundstage on Saturday. 1416 N. La Brea Ave., Hlywd.; Sat., May 19, 6 p.m. (213) 621-1768, moca.org.
3. Gravity might not exist
Renegade scientist James Carter published a zine in 1970 called Gravity Does Not Exist, and he meant it — Newton had been wrong. Carter has spent the rest of his career developing and promoting a theory to explain the structure of matter. His ideas, which Bill Clinton thanked him for sharing in notes from the '90s, are among those featured in the Institute for Figuring's debut show, “Physics on the Fringe.” There also are shelves of binders containing other theories from outsider physicists who continue to appear at the Chinatown space to drop off their life's work. 990 N. Hill St., Chinatown; through Oct. 14. (323) 222-2111, theiff.org.
2. Self-sacrifice performance art
In 2003, Regina Jose Galindo walked through Guatemala City wearing a billowing black dress and carrying a basin of blood. She dipped her feet in the basin as she went, to leave a trail of red footprints in protest of violent military ruler Efraín Ríos Montt, then running for president. A year later, she filmed her own hymenoplasty, a surgery to restore virginity, performed by a seedy doctor. It went wrong, and she ended up in the hospital, where nurses shook their head as they had over other similarly damaged girls before her. Galindo's performances are poetically political in the most painful way, but they sear their way deep into your memory. She will perform a piece about the gap between the developed world and the underworld on the night her exhibition “Vulnerable” opens at the Museum of Latin American Art. 628 Alamitos Ave., Long Beach; Thurs., May 24, 7 p.m. (562) 437-1689, molaa.org.
1. Back-alley photographer
Daido Moriyama has described venturing down alleys after a photograph, then jumping into a taxi cab and driving away, trying to forget what he's seen. His photographs, now at LACMA's Pavilion for Japanese Art, have that feeling of illicitness, even when all they reveal is how strange a sleek advertisement looks hung over a rundown, roughed-up stairwell. 5905 Wilshire Blvd.; through July 31. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org.