This weekend, a dinner pays homage to Jonathan Swift, a virus dances to Beyonce and the politically minded star of a soft-core film crosses paths with a pair of kings.
5. Imaginary island dinner
In Jonathan Swift's satirical Gulliver's Travels, Lilliput is an island inhabited by tiny people involved in a dispute over eggs. Traditionally, all islanders had broken hardboiled eggs starting on the wider end. But the Emperor, who cut himself doing this as a child, decrees that all hardboiled eggs be broken on the smaller side, prompting some enraged Lilliputians to flee to the neighboring island. Concord Space will not serve eggs at when it hosts a Lilliputian holiday dinner this weekend, but it will serve various more colorful dishes — pork chops, carrot sauces, candied pumpkin. There will be menu options for omnivores and herbivores.1010 N. San Fernando Road, Glassell Park. $15, RSVP required. (818) 649-0189, concordspace.com.
4. Strange notations
French artist Guy de Cointet, who moved to L.A. in 1967 and stayed, made drawings and props that were so elegant you sometimes forgot they were eccentric. Right now, at Samuel Freeman Gallery in Culver City, colorful props made by the late artist sit on tables and on the floor beneath a few of his drawings. Lost at Sea I (“…from a lagoon to another.”) is a set of red letters and numbers in a multicolored frame that has three peaks like a mountain. Next to it hangs The Marriage of Electricity and Magnetism, where ink notations that look like they're from a mysterious language swirl down the page. 2639 S. La Cienega Blvd.; through Jan. 12. (310) 449-1479, samuelfreeman.com.
3. Red rubber (HIV virus) ball
A remix of Beyonce's “Sweet Dreams (Beautiful Nightmare)” plays throughout most of Jordan Wolfson's 14-minute video Raspberry Poser. While refrains “my guilty pleasure, I ain't going nowhere” and “long as you're here, I'll be floating on air” fill REDCAT's gallery, you see a blood-red rubber toy expanding and constricting and bouncing around the big screen, across stock imagery of expensive, way-too-slick living rooms and bathrooms. The toy is supposed to be an HIV virus, which the condom that swims romantically into the frame at times and some other clues suggest. But since the white carpet that currently covers the gallery's floor is so soft to sit on and Beyonce's song so buoyantly seductive, watching Wolfson's work feels like being stuck somewhere between comfort and discomfort. 631 W. Second St., dwntwn.; through Jan. 27. (213) 237-2800, redcat.org.
2. Family paintings
Al Payne used to piece together ravaged frames and shreds of cloth to make paintings that looked like disaster sites. He also would paint slightly awkward but sincere portraits of his children skiing or playing in front of the fire. Both strains of his work appear in the Box Gallery's current group show, “Painting.” All made between 1953 and 2012 by 11 artists, the paintings that hang throughout the Box's labyrinthine Little Tokyo space are sometimes aggressive, sometimes tender, always at least a little bit messy and perfectly at home with each other. 805 Traction Ave.; through Jan 26. (213) 625-1747, theboxla.com.
1. Apologies to MLK, Jr.
In the 1967 film I Am Curious (Yellow), Lena, a Swedish girl, researches politics. At one point, she asks a former king, his powers limited by socialists, what it's like to be a last monarch. He says he tries to remain objective about it. Later, after she's taken up with Bill, a rightist who works in menswear, and found out he has another woman, Lena passes Martin Luther King Jr. on the road — it's real footage of him, but director Vilgot Sjoman took it a year earlier. She apologizes to Martin for the violence she plans to commit when she finds her lover. Bill's full frontal nudity in love scenes with Lena is what got the film banned in the United States in 1968. Sjoman fought the case to the Supreme Court, where he won. Right now, I Am Curious plays on two monitors in Jancar Gallery's show by the same name, surrounded by often cheesy posters promoting erotic films from that era, when soft-core was still as racy as it got. 961 Chung King Road, Chinatown; through July 28. (213) 259-3770, jancargallery.com.