“Dysfunctional Formulas of Love”
              Jonathan Griffin
              If your first associations with Colombia are cocaine, paramilitary violence, and the rapacious plunder of natural resources by neo-colonialist corporations, then you are only half right, according to this spirited, unkempt, and organizationally flawed exhibition of Colombian artists at The Box, Los Angeles. Along with all these clichés (eagerly resold to Western audiences through film and television), Colombia is a society of familial warmth and communal resilience, a place where humor, love, and magic play important roles in the survival of its people. Curators Víctor Albarracín Llanos (who is Colombian) and Corazón Del Sol (who grew up there) allow all of these narrative threads to entwine through the work of 32 artists, most of whom live in Colombia but some of whom now reside elsewhere. One is Los Angeles-based Gala Porras-Kim, who fled Colombia when she was a child, packing hastily in the middle of the night after her family was threatened. The small trove of items she brought with her is arranged on a low table as an untitled and undated installation: comics, letters, some dried leaves, and a cheat sheet for Mortal Kombat 3 (1995). Collectively, the objects reaffirm a tired narrative of dysfunctional Colombian life, but individually they …
              Judith Bernstein’s “Cock in the Box”
              Sabrina Tarasoff
              There is no image more prescient of modern displays of masculinity and status than Judith Bernstein’s drawing COCK IN THE BOX (1966), inspired by a history of Vietnam-era bathroom-stall graffiti. Whether those lewd sketches were made to parody politics in wartime, as comic relief for those on the john, for camaraderie, or to alleviate boredom, the big boy’s room provided a space to think patriotism through masculinity. Perhaps Lyndon B. Johnson’s characterization of the penis as a tool to leverage force was an influence: one anecdote has the president, plagued by reporters asking why the United States was in Vietnam, unzipping his pants, pulling out his flaccid cock and saying: “This is why!” No more poignant example of power mislaid. Such sentiments surely lingered on the mind of Judith Bernstein as she drew COCK IN THE BOX midway through Johnson’s six years in power as US president. The charcoal and pastel drawing opens her exhibition at Los Angeles’s appropriately named The Box, setting a tone of equivocation between politics and entertainment—a timely commentary considering the farcical climate of the United States’s incipient despotism. The sketch is a smudged pastel of a sweetly pink dick sprung from a star-spangled jack-in-the-box. Beneath a …
              Simone Forti’s "On An Iron Post"
              Andrew Berardini
              Dear Simone, Your performances are the jump and splash of a brook, the color of a found leaf, a painted flag wrapping a woman as the river dances around her. At 80, your nimble movements inspire. When I stop to read back about your lifetime of accomplishments and confluences, I can’t help but admire you all the more: learning improvisation with Anna Halprin in San Francisco in the 1950s; trying and moving into your own through the techniques of Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, and Trisha Brown; your presence at the birth of Judson Church; your collaborations with Yoko Ono, La Monte Young, and Terry Riley. Just a few flickers from an enduring and illustrious career. I see all those layers and life here in your videos, objects, performances, deepening the grace of your movements and the susurrus of your words, knowing that such simplicity is not easily won. In the long, high gallery at The Box, I watched the water crash and shiver over the stones on the monitor in Northeast Kingdom (2015), the headphones sounding a dinner conversation between two men about geography and Vermont. Plucking the headphones off (always like wearing an insect when looking at art), I turned to …
              Paul McCarthy and Damon McCarthy’s "Rebel Dabble Babble"
              Jonathan Griffin
              The doubling begins immediately. An exhibition across town, organized by MOCA and James Franco, called “Rebel,” themed (incredibly) around Franco’s resemblance to James Dean, finds its evil twin in “Rebel Dabble Babble.” It began with Franco inviting Paul McCarthy to collaborate on a project based on Rebel Without a Cause (1955), and ended up with McCarthy and his son Damon creating house-sized sets in their studio, staging auditions, filming, and performing in scenes with actors (who played hybrids of cinematic characters and the actors who originally played them) and, ultimately, shooting scenes for a pornographic version of Rebel Without a Cause featuring an actor named James Deen, who, like Franco, is a dead ringer for its original tragic star. A watered-down version of the project remains in MOCA’s exhibition, but at The Box it unfurls into full exhaustive glory. The main gallery is a dimly lit cacophony of yelling, coital grunting, and howls. Video projections fill the walls and, in the middle of the room, a two-story stage set, a replica of rebel Jim Stark’s home in the film, lies on its side. The first two projections, though differently edited, have the same long title—Fuck you, Pillow Talk, Staircase Argument, Stunt

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