Performance, performance and more performance: at REDCAT, in Chinatown, at the Downtown Public Library. That's what the weekend is shaping up to be about in big, bad L.A. But there are also interesting group shows around town, one of which may be explict (or not). Plus, an intriguing collection of prison art goes on view in Orange County:
The New Original Works Festival, at Redcat. Today kicks off a three-week festival of dance, theater, music and performance. Things get rolling over this weekend with experimental dances by Wilfried Souly and Rosanna Gamson as well as the operatic love story “Iceland,” performed by Overtone Industries. The whole schmegagie then wraps up on the weekend of Aug. 7, with a dance by Ate9 dance company and what sounds like is going to be a dark-weird piece involving taxidermy and transformation by John Fleck called “Blacktop Highway.” Taxidermy and transformation? Sign. Me. Up. Starts today, July 24, 631 W. 2nd St., Downtown Los Angeles, redcat.org.
Perform Chinatown, at the galleries of Chinatown. If too much performance is never enough, then head over to Chung King Road, where the scrappy Perform Chinatown festival is going down this Saturday afternoon. Organized by critic Doug Harvey, artist Lee Lynch and gallerist Paige Wery, the show will feature a DJ set by artists Steve Roden and Dan Bolles, a live video feed of a performance work in Iran, an appearance by satirist and prankster Joey Skaggs and a live performance by the band F (made up of Marnie Weber, Dani Tull, Harvey and Daniel Hawkins). Sounds like a darn good time. Plus, you'll always be close to food. Saturday from noon to 10 p.m., Chung King Road, Los Angeles, perforchinatown.com.
Machine Project, “Machinations in the Library,” at the Central Library. The library is supposed to be a place of studious calm. But Saturday, various performers will turn it into their stage, using materials in the collection as points of inspiration for a variety of artsy actions. Saturday at 8 p.m., 630 W. 5th St., Downtown Los Angeles, machineproject.com.
“May Contain Explicit Imagery,” at CB1 Gallery. Is it explicit? Or is it not? That is the question that you may be asking yourself as you check out this group show of abstract and abstracted works by Nancy Baker Cahill, Kiki Seror and John Weston (shown above). Organized by Tucker Neel, who runs the telephone line gallery 323 Projects, the show promises to be a Rorschach test for all the bits of dirtiness in your mind. Opens Sunday at 5 p.m., 207 W. 5th St., Downtown Los Angeles, cb1gallery.com.
Carol Selter, “Outdoor World,” at Charlie James Gallery. The main space at Charlie James will feature Selter’s conceptual photographic projects, which play with the idea of landscape: She re-photographs images of landscapes out in the wild, giving nature the fun-house mirror treatment. Also on view is the group show “The Cartographer,” curated by Alise Spinella, that examines mapping in all its literal and figurative guises. Opens Saturday at 7 p.m., 969 Chung King Road, Chinatown, cjamesgallery.com.
Cross My Heart Hope to Die, “Vite e Morte,” at Subliminal Projects. A multimedia art collective that includes DJ Muggs from Cypress Hill will exhibit a sound-and-image installation that features digitally manipulated photos of nature, along with 3D-printed sculptures and various music boxes that play bits of a song that the group will perform on opening night. They will also release the music as an EP. Opens Saturday at 8 p.m., 1331 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park, subliminalprojects.com.
“CLEAR,” at Gagosian Gallery. Inspired by the minimal and transparent works of California’s Light and Space movement, this group show brings together artists working in this vein: pieces that play with ideas of clarity and transparency, even if it’s not in a literal way. This includes works by the likes of Mark Lombardi, best known for his diagrammatic drawing of all the people and transactions involved in the collapse of the Bank of Credit & Commerce International (BCCI) in the 1980s. Transparency, indeed. Opens Friday at 6 p.m., 456 N. Camden Drive, Beverly Hills, gagosian.com.
Assif Assefi, “Prison Art,” at DAX Gallery. While serving a 16-month sentence for drug possession at the Theo Lacey Federal Detention Center in Santa Ana, Assefi (who went to art school in Kansas) used the time to make art — out of commissary bags, toothpaste, coffee grounds, mustard and fruit drinks. The pieces he created — in which he frequently depicts himself as a caged or dead bird — are the subject of an exhibition. Opens Saturday at 6 p.m., 2951 Randolph St, Costa Mesa, daxgallery.com.
A screening of “Chris and Don: A Love Story” and artist talk with Don Bachardy, at the Brand Library Art Center. Bachardy, renowned for his drawn portraits (in particular those of his partner, novelist Christopher Ishwerwood, on his death bed), will be screening the documentary about their lives together and hosting an artist’s talk on the subject. Today at 6 p.m., 1601 W. Mountain Road, Glendale, brandlibrary.org.
Big City Forum Panel Discussion, "Print Culture, Criticality, Engagement," at the Armory Center for the Arts. A panel discussion with Kate Johnston, director of the Women’s Center for Creative Work, artist Martine Syms and Wendy Yao of Ooga Booga will explore the role of print in civic engagement. Saturday at 4 p.m., 145 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena, armoryarts.org.