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Freedom, step by step: Dance and sculpture at Mackey Garage Top

Freedom, step by step: Dance and sculpture at Mackey Garage Top
Marko Lulic and Sam Durant, installation view, "Spomenici revolucije" at the Mackey Garage Top in Los Angeles. (Joshua White / JWPictures.com)

Writing about art is like dancing about architecture: It's a ridiculous thing to do. Yet, the latter is precisely what happens in Viennese artist Marko Lulic's compelling video at the MAK Center's Mackey Garage Top.

Five dancers improvise and interact with one another in response to a strikingly modernist, starburst-shaped World War II monument, located on Kosmaj Mountain in Serbia. The video is the centerpiece of "Spomenici revolucije," a two-person exhibition with L.A. artist Sam Durant.

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The show is titled after a 1970s Yugoslavian sticker book that encouraged schoolchildren to collect images of anti-fascist monuments. One of these books is on view in a vitrine; it combines kitschy collector culture with images of fantastically avant-garde structures. An induction into a national mythology, it is also a primer in modernist aesthetics.

For unlike their U.S. counterparts, Yugoslavian monument designers took the promise of modernism seriously: a new vocabulary for a new, free world. The dancers in Lulic's video bring a super-sized, idealistic design back down to a restless, pulsing human scale. History lives on in us.

Durant's contribution is more oblique: a modestly scaled steel sculpture of a balustrade designed by Yugoslavian Socialist leader Josip Broz Tito. It is, like Lulic's dance, a translation. Based on a photograph, it returns the balustrade to three dimensions, albeit in a flat, cutout form. A resurrection of sorts, it is a mini-monument to the artist as politician.

Mackey Garage Top, 1137 S. Cochran Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 651-1510, through March 5. Open Friday and Saturday. www.makcenter.org

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