This week, artists stage a daytime variety show in a mystery theater, and an exhibit downtown features ambitious, quirky takes on the “exquisite corpse” concept.
The endlessly enigmatic Guy de Cointet was old-school L.A. artist Larry Bell’s assistant. De Cointet staged language plays and invented his own codes. Bell made minimal glass boxes. They didn’t see eye to eye about art making but they worked together for years. After de Cointet’s too-early death, Bell held on to the minimal drawing that’s now at the center of Harmony Murphy Gallery’s “Flat Foldability.” The drawing, in a handmade green frame, consists of precise red-brown lines that come together to form smart, confined shapes and then span out again. All the other work in the show has been, in some way or another, folded together or pulled open. Joshua Callaghan’s wooden door — cut open and re-hinged to become multiple doors — resembles an accordion. Thomas Demello broke apart a neat stack of planks by dropping a 50-pound anvil on it. 358 E. Second St., downtown; through June 11. (646) 286-5647, harmonymurphygallery.com.
Putting it all out there
A group of artists have been tasked with sharing “too much information” for a series of lectures at Human Resources this week. Jennifer Moon and laub, collaborators who have turned their love and life into a revolution, talk on Friday. Patricia Fernandez, whose current work involves family history and an emotionally charged excavation of graves in Spain, speaks on Saturday. On Sunday, it’s Rosten Woo, the artist who built a website to try to make redistricting fun (so that Californians would be motivated to care). The series, called T.M.I., runs through the weekend. There’s a cash bar and time to mingle before and after each talk. 410 Cottage Home St., Chinatown; Wed.-Sun., May 25-29, 7:30 p.m. (213) 290-4752, humanresourcesla.com.
On Saturday, outspoken artist Johnnie JungleGuts hosts as Machine Project stages a daytime television show in its intimate basement theater. It should be Judge Judy meets Maury meets Ellen, only more eccentric. Guests include a boy terrified of veggies, a woman who uses Taco Bell sauces to tell the future and a man who lives only on Soylent-style food products. There’s a celebrity interview too, of course, and surprise guests. Perhaps there will also be obnoxious stage lighting. (Seating is limited, but it’s live, and anyone anywhere can watch the web stream.) 1200-D N. Alvarado, Echo Park; Sat., May 28, 2-4 p.m.; $5-$10. (213) 483-8761, machineproject.com.
Mixing up the parts
The Mistake Room’s “Exquisite Corpse” show has one wall of the kind of corpse drawings we’re used to: Surrealist-era collaborations, in which one artist started a sketch, folded the paper over and handed it off to the next artist. There’s a gorgeous 1938 one by inimitable Victor Brauner and friends. But the rest of the main gallery overflows with bigger, messier collaborations and mash-ups of materials. Oscar Tuazon built a column onto which poet Ariana Reines stapled paper with typed text, some of it upside down. Haegue Yang made a life-sized vase woven from straw into the shape of a woman; artificial plants grow out of her head. Lisa Jo and Amy Yao projected home videos into trashcans. 1811 E. 20th St., downtown; through July 2. (213) 749-1200, tmr.la.
Owning the act
Artist Dean Sameshima worked in MOCA’s bookstore in 1992, when he was arrested for lewd conduct. A cop had “caught” him in a public restroom, during a sting operation (some LAPD officers had heard certain restrooms were playgrounds for pleasure seekers). For his show at Gavlak Gallery, Sameshima, who now lives in Berlin, hand painted the pages of his arrest report across five canvases. He impressively approximated the type and handwriting, so the paintings look “official.” Still, reading the report is weirdly salacious, both because of the detailed descriptions of “lewdness” and because someone’s private history has been writ so large. 1034 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood; through July 9. (561) 833-0583, gavlakgallery.com.