This week, snarky performance artist Eleanor Antin remembers Stalin, Paul McCarthy pulls a chair out from under a fictional Natalie Wood and sculptor Emily Counts turns a fax machine mystical.
5. What's war got to do with it?
In the trailer for their new exhibition and performance series, Arjun Neuman and Kestrel Burley wear Bavarian costumes and send mini missiles at each other from across a sidewalk. “Breaking and Entering: Studies in War, Sex and Fear” at Human Resources includes three performances that explore why war is still such a gendered, mostly male thing and why conflicts play out in our minds like a “Sunday comic strip.” 410 Cottage Home St., Chinatown; Fri., May 25-Sat., May 26, 8 p.m.; Sun., May 27, 7 p.m.; $10. (213) 290-4752, humanresourcesla.org.
4. Relics from a pre-digital age
On North Camden Drive, a block from Rodeo Drive, Garboushian Gallery has installed an exhibition perfect for the neighborhood — archaic objects are glazed, over-produced and presented as novelties. But Emily Counts' sculptures of fax machines, rotary phones and boxy computers made of wood, ceramics, porcelain and resin are perhaps eerier than any of the wares in surrounding Beverly Hills storefronts. Press a button on the computer keyboard and a primitive white mountain of squares and pyramids appears. Hold down the clicker attached to the fax machine that has shiny black resin dripping down all its sides and a fairytale tableau lights up inside. 427 N. Camden Drive, Beverly Hills; through June 16. (310) 274-5205, garboushian.com.
3. It's all in the details
Jim McAllister paints pictures of pleasant pictures. In Sultriest Surrounds Subsides at Richard Telles gallery, he has painted an image of a flower garden over a smart pattern of purple and pink. If Gleaming Summer Spent is all pink and glowing orange, with a still life of vases stacked on top of an expanse of triangles that's superimposed over tangerine-colored flora. In McAllister's world, sounds, colors, styles and shapes trump everything else and you get so swept up in the details you forget there's a bigger picture. 7380 Beverly Blvd.; through June 16. 323-965-5578, tellesfineart.com.
2. Dabbling with Franco and friends
James Franco asked Paul McCarthy, whose self-effacing, irreverent art has only gotten bolder and grosser over the years, to re-stage what happened in director Nicholas Ray's Chateau Marmont suite, among James Dean, Natalie Wood and other cast members from Rebel Without a Cause — rumors about Champagne baths and sexual trysts abound. McCarthy agreed to “dabble.” So Rebel Dabble Babble, a show at the Box Gallery concurrent with MOCA's “Rebel,” organized by Franco, came to be. McCarthy hired actors to star alongside him and Franco in the videos that screen at the Box. Elegant Elyse Poppers plays Wood; in one vignette, McCarthy, as director Nick Ray, pulls a chair out from under her. You see her fall to the floor again and again, shot from all different angles. There are more explicit, more intense scenes in the show, but none get at the childishly violent absurdity of the Rebel mystique better than this. 805 Traction Ave., Little Tokyo; through July 7. (213) 625-1747, theboxla.com.
1. Memoirs of a red-diaper baby
Artist Eleanor Antin was born a “red-diaper baby.” Her mother was a Stalinist, her “wimpy” father a socialist. So she says in her semi-fictional, forthcoming memoir, Conversations With Stalin, in which she describes growing up in love with the Soviet Union. She also describes loving Greek statues, and skipping school to see them in the art museum, caressing their white marble thighs when guards turned away. If a guard caught her and threw her out, she'd change her hairstyle before returning. But when she heard Stalin call ancient Greeks “slave-holding aristocrats,” she started playing hooky by going to the movies. Antin will read from this memoir, parts of which she has used in her performances over the years, at Blum & Poe on Saturday. Simone Forti will read, too. She's another performance artist who writes and who, like Antin, came into her own in the 1970s and treats the written word like a physical, all-consuming medium. 2754 S. La Cienega Blvd.; Sat., May 26, 6 p.m.; free. (310) 836-2062, blumandpoe.com.