[Editor's Note: After we went to press, we were informed that the date for Bass Elegy/Devil's Night (for M.K.) has been moved from Sat., Aug. 25 to Sat., Sept. 1 at 8 p.m.]
This week, an exhibition feels like a haunted graveyard, a performer turns his body into a chemistry experiment and a sculptor exploits building codes.
5. Devil's Night in the middle of the day
In urban Detroit in the 1970s and '80s, the night before Halloween, called Devil's Night, was a mess of arson and violence: Eight hundred fires were set in 1984 alone. L.A. artist Mike Kelley came from Detroit, as did his bandmates in punk group Destroy All Monsters. The weird legacy of violence and urban decay haunted Kelley's work and the band's music and, in some sense, it will haunt Scott Benzel and Mark Hagen's performance at LAXART this weekend. Called Bass Elegy/Devil's Night (for M.K.) in honor of Kelley, who died in February, the performance will involve a wrecked car with a bass cabinet inside it. Detroit techno, ghettotech, booty bass and some original compositions will play out of the wreck. 2640 S. La Cienega Blvd.; Sept. 1, 8 p.m. (323) 868-5893, laxart.org.
4. Extreme chemistry
In 2007, Yann Marussich performed Blue Remix. He sat in a glass chamber as pulsing music played and stared straight ahead. He had injected himself with methylene blue before the performance, so dark blue liquid started dripping from his eye sockets and mouth, then oozing out through his skin. Footage of this is intensely difficult to watch. But it makes you almost sublimely conscious of the space between your body's experience and his. Marussich reprises this performance at LACE this week. 6522 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs., Aug. 23, 7 p.m.; $10. (323) 957-1777, welcometolace.org.
3. Macho flutist with lady legs
The best art in L & M Arts' “Mash Up” show of new and old collage hangs in the East gallery. There, a cartoonish eye gazes out of an expanse of garishly bright yellow in Aaron Curry's Dopesmoker. Bare-chested Herbie Mann holds his flute over his shoulder as if it's a rifle and has the legs of a woman in Christian Marclay's collage Push Push (from the series Body Mix). Paul McCarthy's “carpet” of plastic gloves and crumbly clay angles across the floor. 660 Venice Blvd., Venice; through Aug. 31. (310) 821-6400, lmgallery.com.
2. Thirty-five-foot skyscraper
In the 1990s, when Chris Burden tried to build his Topanga Canyon studio “to code,” he realized just how gnarly and restricting said “code” could be. He asked a friend, an architect, what the largest structure was that he could build without permits. At that point, a loophole in the L.A. Building Code allowed for out buildings no larger than 400 square feet and 35 feet high. So he built a small, nonfunctional, four-story structure, styled after a skyscraper. It flouts the law while following it to the letter. Versions of this sculpture have shown at LACE and at Art Basel in Switzerland. The loophole has since been closed, but the Armory Center for the Arts got permission to erect the small skyscraper in an Old Pasadena courtyard. 41 Hugus Alley, Pasadena; through Nov. 11. (626) 792-5101, armoryarts.org.
1. Darker than a normal night
Night Gallery is always dark. It opens only after the sun is long gone and it's barely lit inside or out. But Adam Gordon's installation at the gallery feels darker than usual. It includes only two distinct light sources, bulbs shining down from the ceiling of the first of two black-walled rooms. You can barely make out the figure on the hanging rectangular plaque suspended by string and spinning in the middle of the room. In the next room, there's a chamber, with a doorway too narrow for a normal body to squeeze through and a glass wall across the front. Behind the glass, you can just make out mounds of decaying things that don't look like bones but definitely look organic, and the chamber feels like a burial ground such as amateur sleuths might come across in the opening minutes of a CSI episode. 204 S. Avenue 19; through Aug. 28. (646) 717-4925, www.nightgallery.ca