This week, a frenetic, 40-minute-plus video airs on MOCAtv, a photo show gives famous and anonymous photographers equal play, and a short film brings together 21st-century preteens and a slavery-era hymn about deliverance.
5. Spirituals and sea creatures
Artist Lili White organizes the Another Experiment by Women Film Festival annually in New York, and then does several other showings throughout the year. The Armory Center for the Arts will host one of those other showings this weekend. The program includes Alessandra Cianelli's Story of an Octopus With a Heart-Shaped Head, a surreal dreamscape that really does feature heartlike organs and shapes floating around under and above water. It also includes Rebecca Louise Tiernan's One Mississippi, in which four preteen girls nap and stare and frolic in fields while old spirituals play — at one point they circle a goth scarecrow while the words “I want to live with God” are sung aggressively. 145 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena; Fri., Dec. 28, (626) 792-5101, miascreen.com.
4. Steel's softer side
Because so many of them are made of stainless steel, the sculptures in Kathryn Andrews' exhibition “D.O.A. | D.O.B.” (dead on arrival / date of birth) at David Kordansky gallery at first seem cool and pretentious. Then you get closer and see a birthday letter sitting in the drawer at the foot of the steel bed frame, and notice the clown faces on the window frames, or realize the shiny silver tubes are just the right size for a human body to hide inside, and the coolness begins to warm. 3143 S. La Cienega Blvd., Unit A; through Feb. 2. (310) 558-3030, davidkordanskygallery.com.
3. Window viewing
The Finley, the gallery in Los Feliz located inside an apartment building lobby and viewable through the exterior windows, does not have holiday hours. This means, if you were walking through the neighborhood early-ish or late-ish, you could stop and look from the street, or climb up onto the viewing stool in the front plant bed, and look through the glass Lisa Williamson frosted, at the panels of solid color hanging in the stairwell. 4627 Finley Ave.; through Jan. 5. (617) 794-4530, thefinleygallery.artcodeinc.com.
2. Photo free-for-all
If you've ever dug through the piles of found photographs at Melrose Trading Post, or maybe another flea market, you've likely found those images that seem to be happy accidents — maybe of a grandfather asleep in a chair with upholstery that beautifully contrasts his flannel shirt — and you've found those that have to be the work of someone with real skill. At Ambach & Rice gallery, the feeling is similar, although more images fall into the latter camp. The images in the show, all amassed by collector Robert E. Jackson, come from both known photographers and anonymous ones. Wolfgang Tillmans' orange-tinted images of four 20-somethings in army fatigues asleep on sand is no more or less compelling than the eerie, gray, anonymous photo of a man's silhouette on a cliff. 6148 Wilshire Blvd.; through Jan. 12. (323) 965-5500, ambachandrice.com.
Katerina Llanes curated a two-part series for MOCAtv on “Performativity,” how people express their identities in the current social and technological milieu. There are two parts, each with six videos. Part I, “Corporeal,” features a vogueing video by artist Rashaad Newsome, edited so smartly that the single dancer seems to be moving inexhaustibly and intensely for eight soundless minutes. Part II, “Cyber,” features Ryan Trecartin's P.OPULAR S.KY (section ish), which begins with a frenetic monologue in a wind tunnel and then transitions through a series of equally high-strung vignettes — like a furniture-bashing session where some characters dress like cavemen, or a photo shoot in a dead mall where a posse of mostly in-drag actors wears white outfits and blond wigs. You can see the whole series on YouTube. youtube.com/user/MOCATV.