Category: Performance art

Monster Mash: Annie Leibovitz's new show; 'Superstar' kerfuffle

January 25, 2012 |  7:38 am

Annie Leibovitz's new show of landscapes and objects at the Smithsonian is a departure from her popular celebrity portraits.

'Christ' clash: Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber are publicly at odds over a new production of "Jesus Christ Superstar," which Webber plans to cast via a television contest. (Telegraph)

Interview: Annie Leibovitz's new show of landscapes and objects at the Smithsonian is a departure from her popular celebrity portraits. (Associated Press/Washington Post)

Sale of the ancients: Desperate for funds, Greece's Culture and Tourism Ministry announced new lower rates for permits to film at the Acropolis and other historical sites. (Bloomberg News)

For the record: The Atlantic Theater Co. is mounting the play "CQ/CX," which deals with former New York Times reporter Jayson Blair, who was fired for filing false stories. (Playbill)

Tense talks: Union art handlers and the Whitney Museum are in protracted negotiations over a contract that expires Jan. 31 -- just before preparation for March’s Whitney Biennial kicks into high gear. (Art Info)

Silent ball: In celebration of the documentary "Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present," the performance artist hosted a Silence Is Golden fete at Sundance. (New York Magazine)

Noisy fest: London's Southbank Centre will host a yearlong music festival in 2013, inspired by critic Alex Ross' study of 20th century classical music, "The Rest is Noise." (Guardian)

Stage presence: Actor Helen Hunt and director David Cromer talk about their production of "Our Town," playing at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica. (KCRW's Soundcloud)

Dominant company: Led by best director Mike Leigh ("Grief") and best actor Benedict Cumberbatch ("Frankenstein"), London's National Theatre won more than half of the 2011 Critics Circle Stage Awards. (Stage)

Lipstick on a corpse? New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced plans to demolish the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, but architect Bruce S. Fowle is continuing with a $390-million renovation started six years ago. (New York Times)

Passing: Experimental filmmaker Robert Nelson dies at 81. (New York Times)

Also in the L.A. Times: Charles McNulty reviews "A Raisin in the Sun" at the Kirk Douglas Theatre.

-- Margaret Wappler

Photo: Photographer Annie Leibovitz leads a media tour of her exhibit, "Pilgrimage," at the Smithsonian. Credit: Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press


High-impact works at PST's Performance and Public Art Festival

January 24, 2012 |  4:45 pm

Jennifer West
Ever since Hans Arp let free-falling scraps of paper shape his collages and Marcel Duchamp let free-floating threads shape his canvases, artists of a certain breed have invited accident into their artwork. But two rather explosive performances this weekend, part of the Pacific Standard Time festival that runs through Sunday, showed that not all accidents pack the same creative punch.
Artists in both events made use of projectiles as tools for painting and instruments for ceding some of their usual control. First up, starting at noon in an outdoor shooting range set against the scrubby hills of Tujunga, a dozen artists paid homage to Niki de Saint Phalle’s 1962  “shooting pictures” by taking turns firing a rifle at artworks they had rigged with spray paint cans, bags of acrylic paint, pouches of bleach and other liquids designed to explode in unpredictable ways.
Later, just before sunset, a couple hundred people gathered on a grassy field near the Rose Bowl in Pasadena to see Richard Jackson crash a large, remote-controlled model airplane loaded with paint bombs into a 19-foot-tall canvas, creating an abstract painting.
Only the accidents in both events didn’t quite go according to plan.

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PST: Judy Chicago, James Turrell, Hirokazu Kosaka performance art

January 22, 2012 |  4:23 pm

Preparation F by John M. White
Pacific Standard Time began its Performance and Public Art Festival on Thursday with Judy Chicago fogging up a corner of the Santa Monica Airport by building pyramids with chilly blocks of dry ice. Walking through it as it was being assembled, I felt slightly disoriented and almost slipped. That’s surely a sign of a successful artwork in a slippery medium.

An outgrowth of the visual art world -- but with DNA in music, dance and theater -- performance art has had many monikers. Time-based art is a catchall. In Vienna, parading around nude, covered in blood, and eroticizing the yucky bits the butcher throws out is known as Actionism. The Getty Research Institute once labeled its exhibition of public experimentation from postwar Japan as “Art, Anti-Art, Non-Art.” In the late '50s and early '60s, there were Happenings.

No longer just a pretension of academic jargon, the word “performative” has become normative. A  news release described Hirokazu Kosaka’s “Kalpa,” which took place at the Getty Center Friday night, as a “performative installation.” But the term that characterized the events I took in on the first three days of the festival was public spectacle.

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James Turrell on Burning Bridges, part of January's PST festival

January 18, 2012 |  4:15 pm


In his first week of teaching at the Claremont graduate school in 1971, James Turrell created a rather loud false alarm. He was planting road flares and aluminum reflectors in alcoves behind the columns of Bridges Auditorium (above) in a performance art piece in which the building appeared to have caught on fire.

“What happened is it was so effective that the fire department was called out,” he said, telling the story by phone Monday. "All of a sudden I heard the sirens approaching." He said he left Roland Reiss, the new head of the program, holding the bag; he had to rush off to join his students at another performance.

Although he is now best known for his light-based installations and earthworks — and his epic, seemingly never-ending Roden Crater installation in Arizona -- Turrell says he did many short-lived, time-based performances early on. One driving force was his interest in light, he said, describing early work at his studio on Main Street in Santa Monica (now a Starbucks) in which he blocked windows and controlled the flow of light in the rooms not just as an installation but as a performance that played out differently for different visitors at different times of day.

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Monster Mash: Brian Stokes Mitchell on 'Glee'; a new Liz auction

January 18, 2012 |  8:36 am

Glee family
That explains it:
Tony award-winning actor Brian Stokes Mitchell and film and television's Jeff Goldblum will appear on "Glee" as Rachel's gay dads. (Broadwayworld. com)

Sign of hope: The New York City Opera and its orchestra union have reached a tentative agreement on a contract, a step toward a new season. (New York Times)

Saved: The American Folk Art Museum is declared "reasonably secure," with more than $3.5 million in contributions and pledges since it sold its main building to the Museum of Modern Art last year. (Bloomberg News)

For sale: Elizabeth Taylor's collection of paintings and drawings by British modernist Augustus John will be sold at a Christie's auction in February. (The Telegraph)

Encyclopedia black: Wikipedia and other popular websites will black out their services Wednesday to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act. (Los Angeles Times)

Circling for a space: Big-name architects are taking on the most basic of urban structures: parking garages. (Wall Street Journal)

Asian power: Chinese artist Zhang Daqian surpasses former champion Picasso as top auction earner, with $506.7 million from auctions in 2011 alone. (Huffington Post)

Early music boon: The Juilliard School announces a $20-million gift to endow its graduate-level program in historical performance. (New York Times)

Spy zone: The heart of the former East German police state -- the office of Stasi chief Erich Mielke -- has been restored as a museum, "Haus 1," open now in Berlin. (BBC News)

Generous: "Phantom of the Opera" will celebrate its 10,000th performance on Broadway with a benefit for the Actors Fund on Feb. 11. (Theater Mania)

Tribute: Writer Jake Gorst reflects on contributions from his grandfather, architect Andrew Geller, to mid-century design. (The Architect's Newspaper)

Passing: Gustav Leonhardt, master harpsichordist, dies at 83. (New York Times)

Also in the LA Times: Jori Finkel previews the PST Performance Art Festival; David Ng follows the 'Spider-Man' vs. Julie Taymor scuffle; more casting news for the L.A. staged reading of Dustin Lance Black's Proposition 8 play, "8."

-- Margaret Wappler

Photos, from left: Jeff Goldblum (Credit: AFP/Getty Images); Lea Michele (Adam Rose / Fox); Brian Stokes Mitchell (handout).

Suzanne Lacy: One artist, three weeks, 40 events

January 14, 2012 |  8:07 am

Watching Suzanne Lacy in action on the Los Angeles Police Department campus, where she kicked off her anti-rape campaign "Three Weeks in January" this week, you could see a set of skills that not all artists have.

She was guiding various volunteers during the installation of a "rape map," the centerpiece of her project, with the confidence of a film director. And she was chatting with a stream of police officers and administrators who happened to walk by -- sussing out their interests in sexual violence issues like a politician building support for a cause.

This is par for the course for Lacy. A pioneer in the field of socially engaged art work, called "public practice" in art lingo, she meets a lot of strangers, collects a lot of business cards and writes a lot of follow-up emails to officials. She tends to interview her interviewers. And she has a knack for identifying the goals and obstacles that motivate people, like any good grass-roots activist.

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Suzanne Lacy kicks off 'Three Weeks in January' at LAPD headquarters

January 12, 2012 |  4:11 pm

Artist Suzanne Lacy is holding a press conference Thursday afternoon to mark the start of "Three Weeks in January," an anti-rape campaign she is organizing based on her landmark 1977 project "Three Weeks in May."

The centerpiece of her original work was a L.A. city map on which she stenciled and stamped the word "RAPE" wherever one was reported over a three-week period. She plans to do that again, but there are striking differences between the new project and the original, and she is the first to admit the social context has changed dramatically over the last three decades.

The incidence of rape in L.A. is down. Public awareness is up. Lacy credits groups like Peace Over Violence and the Rape Treatment Center with making great strides in anti-rape work while acknowledging the work that remains to be done in terms of awareness and prevention both.

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Arts on TV: Anna Deavere Smith; civil rights songs; Dudamel

January 12, 2012 |  6:07 am


“Project Runway All Stars” 9 p.m., Thursday Lifetime: A Night at the Opera : The designers are given 24 hours to create ball gowns for a night at the opera.

“Movie: The Red Shoes” (1948) 11:30 p.m., Thursday TCM: Moira Shearer, Anton Walbrook. A ballerina loves a ballet composer but dances for an obsessive impresario.

“Great Performances” 9 p.m., Friday KOCE: "Let Me Down Easy": Anna Deavere Smith portrays several different characters, sharing their life experiences.

“Celtic Thunder Storm” 10:30 p.m., Friday KVCR: Celtic Thunder's performance includes original music by Irish composer Phil Coulter, including “New Day Dawning,” “Tender Is the Night,” “Storm Overture,” and “Look at Me.”

“Career Day” 1 p.m., Saturday KTLA: Primatologist; Los Angeles Philharmonic musician; church pastor; animal advocate.

“Great Performances” 2 p.m., Sunday KVCR: "Herbie Hancock, Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Phil celebrate Gershwin": The LA Phil's opening night gala features an all-Gershwin repertoire with special guest Herbie Hancock. Gustavo Dudamel conducts.

“Great Performances” 3 p.m., Sunday KVCR: "Celebracion! Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Phil with Juan Diego Flórez": The 2010 opening night gala features overtures and arias in bel canto style, as well as Latin American song and orchestral dances; with tenor Juan Diego Flórez.

“Exploring the Arts With Gloria Greer” 5:30 p.m., Sunday KVCR: A tour of collections at the Palm Springs Art Museum.

“Vine Talk” 6:30 p.m., Sunday KLCS: Ranking Rieslings From the Finger Lakes: Nathan Lane; coloratura soprano Harolyn Blackwell; chef Alfred Portale.

“In Performance at the White House” 10 p.m., Monday KOCE: "A Celebration of Music From the Civil Rights Movement": A concert celebrates Black History Month; performers include Jennifer Hudson, Smokey Robinson, and the Blind Boys of Alabama.

“Great Performances” 9:05 p.m., Tuesday KVCR: Pete Seeger's 90th Birthday Celebration From Madison Square Garden: Pete Seeger celebrates his 90th birthday with special guests Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez, Kris Kristofferson, Richie Havens and Emmylou Harris.

-- Compiled by Ed Stockly

Photo: "Great Performances: Let Me Down Easy" with Anna Deavere Smith. Credit: Mary Ellen Mark / PBS

Allen Ruppersberg and John Outterbridge among 50 new USA fellows

December 5, 2011 |  1:05 pm

Ruppersberg headshot

The holidays have come early for dozens of writers, dancers, musicians, filmmakers and other artists across the country. United States Artists has just announced the recipients of its annual grants: 50 artists (or artist teams), each receiving no-strings-attached grants of $50,000.

This year five of the 50 so-called USA fellows are based in Southern California. The formally inventive, technologically savvy L.A. architect Elena Manferdini received one of the grants in the category of architecture/design. Long Beach independent filmmaker Dee Rees, who loosely based the upcoming movie "Pariah" on her experience growing up gay in a religious black family, won in the category of media. Nancy Keystone, a playwright and founder of Critical Mass Performance group in L.A., won in the category of theater.

And the region had two winners in visual art: assemblage artist John Outterbridge of Los Angeles, an instrumental figure in the Watts arts scene, and conceptual artist Allen Ruppersberg of Santa Monica, who once described himself as a cultural "flaneur" for his wide-ranging, mass media-inspired practice. (Other categories include craft and traditional arts, dance, music and literature.)

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PST, A to Z: ‘The Radicalization of a ‘50s Housewife,’ ‘Best Kept Secret’

November 17, 2011 |  9:30 am

Pacific Standard Time will explore the origins of the Los Angeles art world through museum exhibitions throughout Southern California over the next six months. Times art reviewer Sharon Mizota has set the goal of seeing all of them. This is her latest report.

When the University Art Galleries at UC Irvine decided to call their Pacific Standard Time contribution “The Radicalization of a ‘50s Housewife,” they weren’t kidding. In 1951, when she was just 20, Barbara T. Smith became not just a housewife, but an archetype of conventional American femininity. She had graced the society pages as a young woman, and she and her family seemed to live a charmed life in a Greene & Greene house in Pasadena prominent enough to be featured in the Independent Star News in 1964. (See Holly Myers’ feature story.)

The exhibition's cache of such newspaper and magazine clippings, featuring a smiling, perfectly coiffed young Smith, are jarring in relation to the rest of the show. There are some early works, but most of the space is devoted to documentation from “Birthdaze,” a performance Smith gave at Tortue Gallery in 1981, on the occasion of her 50th birthday. Organized in three parts, it dramatized her rejection of the conventional gender roles she had modeled so perfectly, and her exploration of a new paradigm for relationships between the sexes.

In the first part, which took place outdoors on the gallery’s patio, Smith, wearing a wig, high heels, and a typical 1950s dress, fled the advances of two crass young men (played by Kim Jones and a pants-less Paul McCarthy). In the second, “liberated” part, she donned men’s clothing and returned riding a motorcycle, but was still torn between two different male figures (former lover, the macho Dick Kilgroe, and friend and something of a father figure, Allan Kaprow). The show consists largely of a series of black-and-white photos of the event, furniture and clothing used in the performance, and a re-creation of the room in which, in the final section, Smith and Victor Henderson engaged in a Tantric sex ritual inside the gallery. A video of a similar ritual, which also ran during the performance, plays on a monitor, giving us some sense of the goings-on, which were, to say the least, real.

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