PERFORMING NONCONFORMITY AT THE AWARDS SHOWS

Last Saturday, ForYourArt organized A Hollywood Walk of Art: The Awards Shows, an afternoon of gallery openings and events in the South Highland district of Hollywood, which has grown into a major contemporary art hub over the last several years. The weekend event marked a momentary lull in L.A.’s winter “awards season” mania, from Grammys to Golden Globes to Oscars. All Highland Galleries opened their doors, including Steve Turner’s new adjacent location, and Various Small Fires opened a show of paintings by Mernet Larsen.

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For special programming, ForYourArt hosted morning coffee-and-donuts at Donut Time, a long-standing corner bakery popular with local policemen and prostitutes alike. Behind the trendy Free City boutique, the Women’s Center for Creative Work held a workshop discussion with Free City founder Nina Garduno about the possibility of feminist utopias. Participants sat under an awning at wooden benches eating clementines, describing what their utopia would look like.

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If The Awards Show was really a Hollywood awards show, the big “winner” of the afternoon would have been Performing Nonconformity, a group performance written and choreographed by Marcel Alcalá. A number of “clowns” and “mimes”, in smeared multi-pantone pancake makeup and tan skirts and tops (embroidered with their names, “Us”, “It”, “Ish”, “W/E”) gathered on the top of a neon pink and green amoebic stage built by Alcalá. Each read a poem, some improvised as part of Álcala’s Creating New Content Now series, while artist Lex Brown walked through the crowd matching audience members’ skin color to paint chits and displaying a binder of Nickelodeon cartoon characters with varying shades of color, not white, nor black, nor brown.

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From the performance statement: “Alcalá’s performances function as a kind of DIY foil to the industrial entertainment complex, with costumed performers enacting a series of gestures in a silent vernacular language; a meta critical take on the spectacle of Hollywood.”

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