A video game inspired by the influence of the Vietnam War in our culture, the photographs of Werner Herzog, the drawings of a witchy woman and a German documentary about a convicted art forger. Not to mention Kara Walker and Ava DuVernay in conversation, as part of the Broad's "Un-Private Collection" series. It's shaping up to be one busy weekend! Here's what's in the hopper:
"Eddo Stern: New Works," at the Beall Center for Art + Technology. In the world of art and video games, there is one name that always stands prominently at that intersection: Eddo Stern, who in addition to being an artist also teaches game design at UCLA. This weekend, Stern is showing a number of his games in Irvine, including the latest version of his infamous "Darkgame," which involves all manner of sensory deprivation, including sight. (Players don a mask, which applies different sensations straight to the head.) Stern will also premiere the first three levels of "Vietnam Romance," a game that is collaged from a variety of sources as a way of reflecting on how the war has been digested in the realm of cultural production. Expect an experience that is more "Hearts and Minds" than "Call of Duty." Opens Friday, with a reception on Saturday at 2 p.m. On view through Jan. 24 at UC Irvine, 712 Arts Plaza, Irvine, beallcenter.uci.edu.
"Cameron: Songs for the Witch Woman," at MOCA Pacific Design Center. At a time when the L.A. arts scene is in danger of getting too blue-chip boring, this show offers the perfect antidote: Cameron, born Marjorie Cameron Parsons Kimmel, was an artist known for her extravagant mane and curious drawings that pureed elements of the surreal, the mythical and the occult. Cameron was also stridently anti-commercial (which is why her name likely doesn't ring a bell). After the LAPD's vice cops came down on her for purportedly displaying an obscene drawing at the Ferus Gallery in the 1950s, she vowed never to show in a gallery again. In her lifetime, Cameron burned a lot of her work, but this MOCA exhibit manages to gather some of the remains. A good opportunity to soak up the work of an artist who helped keep L.A. weird. Want a bit more? KPCC has a good profile. Opens Saturday; on view through Jan. 11. 8686 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, moca.org.
Amir Nikravan, "Merge Visible," and Scott Benzel, "Inverted Capitol Spire, Programmatic Architecture Displacement 5-7, & Inversion V," at Various Small Fires. This is another gallery that has migrated east. Previously located in Venice, VSF's new 5,000-square-foot space in Hollywood was remodeled by the buzzy L.A. architectural firm of Johnston Marklee. Things kick off with abstract works by Nikravan and installations by Benzel in the courtyard and the gallery's "sound corridor," which greets visitors to the space with sound pieces. Nikravan and Benzel shows on view through Nov. 8. 812 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood, vsf.la.
"SINCERELY," the final group show at Ambach & Rice. Where one space is opening, another, unfortunately, is closing. Ambach & Rice, which for three years has inhabited a space on Wilshire, near LACMA, will be closing its doors after this show. (A close reading of the announcement leads me to conclude it has everything to do with economics.) The final show includes work from the gallery's stable, including Eric Yahnker (known for his fantastical graphite drawings) and Abigail Reynolds (who makes elaborate photographic installations). Opening reception Saturday at 6 p.m.; on view through Nov. 22. 6148 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire, ambachandrice.com.
"The Un-Private Collection: Kara Walker and Ava DuVernay," at the Writers Guild Theater. It's already sold out, so you won't be able to get in. But thankfully, the folks at the Broad will do a live-stream (at this link) of the hotly anticipated talk between artist Kara Walker, known for silhouette installations that touch on unsavory aspects of America's slave history, and Ava DuVernay, the L.A. filmmaker who has made the critically acclaimed indie pictures "I Will Follow" and "Middle of Nowhere." The two will discuss the influences and processes that inform their work. Very excited about this one, especially because the recent spate of Broad talks has been pretty dude-heavy. This Saturday at 2 p.m., 135 S. Doheny Dr., Beverly Hills, thebroad.org.
"Purgatorio: A Journey Into the Heart of the Border," at Laemmle NoHo 7. Directed by Rodrigo Reyes, this documentary is less a doc than a meditation on the U.S./Mexico border: the cultures it separates, the landscape it traverses, the ways in which it does and doesn't prevent the traffic of people and ideas. Variety has more on the film. This Friday at 3:20 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., at 5240 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, rrcinema.com and laemmle.com.
"The Other Worlds of Werner Herzog," at Wuho Gallery. Speaking of otherworldly cinema, Wuho Gallery and the Goethe-Institut are teaming up for a show of the ephemera from the auteur's film projects. This will include an extensive amount of photography, snapped during the making of many of his films, as well as various film posters. Opens Saturday at 5 p.m.; continues through Oct. 26. 6518 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, goethe.de and woodbury.edu.
A screening of "Beltracchi: The Art of Forgery," at the Egyptian Theatre. A couple of weeks back, I did a story about "Art and Craft," a documentary about Mark Landis, the eccentric who likes to re-create famous and not-so-famous paintings and then pawn them off on museums. Now the Goethe-Institut (lots of Goethe this week!) is sponsoring a screening devoted to the case of art forger Wolfgang Beltracchi, who claims to have created more than 300 falsely attributed paintings, and did six years in jail for some of them. In other words, expect lots of art high jinx. The film is part of the 8th Annual Festival of German Film. This Saturday at 7:30 p.m., 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, goethe.de and egyptiantheatre.com.