This week, a Eurasian collective tells uncanny histories, artists take on maintenance work and a sculptor builds an uncomfortably large minimalist tableau.
5. Keeping the old
When Tom Gilmore moved to L.A. from New York in the late '80s and asked people where to hang out, no one suggested downtown; some didn't even know where downtown was. He ventured downtown anyway, and found architecture that excited him. Gilmore, who now runs the development firm Gilmore & Associates, helped get the Adaptive Reuse Ordinance passed in 1999, allowing builders who wanted to “reuse” historic buildings to bypass certain prohibitive codes. Then he started renovating the Old Bank District. But property costs have risen since then, and building from scratch has again started to seem easier than reviving the old. Gilmore speaks about his work and vision for L.A. at SCI-Arc. 960 E. Third St., dwntwn.; Wed., Feb. 13, 7 p.m. (213) 613-2200, sci-arc.edu.
4. Winter in L.A.
Artist Yann Novak spent part of winter 2010 in Wyoming, where he shot footage of snowstorms. Later he paired his edited footage with an eerie audio score in an effort to capture the feeling of standing in cold stillness as snow falls. His “Snowfall” installation debuts at Human Resources L.A. this weekend. It last six hours, and you can wander in and out as you please. 410 Cottage Home St.; Fri., Feb. 8, 6 p.m. – 12 a.m. (213) 290-4752, humanresourcesla.com.
3. Waste-management performance
Artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles joined the New York Department of Sanitation in 1977 as an artist in residence. In this self-appointed, unpaid position, she has organized snowplow ballets and personally thanked 8,500 workers for “keeping New York alive.” Five years before she joined the DOS, she had done the performance Washing/Tracks/Maintenance at Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford. She would mop, scrub or dust the most trafficked areas while the museum was open. This seemed important at a time — the late 1960s into the '70s — when development and revolution were so widely discussed, because, as Ukeles wrote in her Maintenance Manifesto, “After the revolution, who's going to pick up the garbage?” Black-and-white images of her 1973 performance are in “The Assistants” at David Kordansky, a show about art that acts as custodian or helper. 3143 S. La Cienega Blvd.; through Feb. 23. (310) 558-3030, davidkordanskygallery.com.
2. The Polish-Iranian connection
The collective Slavs and Tartars, whose members have backgrounds in philosophy, art and design, meet most often via Skype. Their work focuses on the area known as Eurasia, that huge land mass between Europe and Asia, which includes almost half the world's countries, and they live in various places and speak various languages. They mostly meet in person when they gather to lecture or attend the opening of a new exhibition. They will be gathered in L.A. this weekend for the opening of their show, “Friendship of Nations: Polish Shi'ite Showbiz.” The show explores strange similarities between Poland and Iran (for instance, in the 17th century, Polish royals believe they were descended from an Iranian tribe). They will perform one of their lectures at RedCat the night of their opening, explaining Iran-Poland convergences. They also will lecture at Central Library this weekend, talking about a satirical Muslim magazine called Molla Nasreddin that mostly featured pictures, like the one of a red-horned pagan urging clerics to ignore contemporary thinkers and hold onto their pagan beliefs. 631 W. Second St., dwntwn.; Sat., Feb. 9, 6 p.m.; free. (213) 237-2800, redcat.org; Mark Taper Auditorium, 630 W. Fifth St., dwntwn.; Thurs., Feb. 7, 6:30 p.m. works-sited.info
1. Out of proportion
New York artist Carol Bove's sculptures are usually tableau of found objects — maybe there's a book on a shelf open to show a rendering of a tulip, a vase on a pedestal or driftwood suspended from the ceiling. They always feel tastefully controlled (“There is something kind of limiting about total freedom,” she has said). Her sculpture The Foamy Saliva of a Horse, made for the Venice Biennale and on view now at Kayne Griffin Corcoran in Santa Monica, has all the deliberate tastefulness her work usually has. There's a metal cage, petrified wood, seashells all on top of a white plinth. But the plinth is chin-high and stretches almost from the door to the back wall, and the objects on it are proportionately huge, which means you feel like a character in an art-house horror film who has shrunk before wandering into an exquisitely austere, modernist garden. Bove's work is part of a group show called “In Search of the Schizophrenic Quotient,” showing art that can't possibly be understood in just one way. 2902 Nebraska Ave.; through March 9. (310) 586-6886, griffinla.com.