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FROM THIS EPISODE

Nothing in the normally white gallery of Art + Practice is as it usually is. Institutional neutrality has been overrun by the obsessively detailed decorations of Alex Da Corte, from the bright green and red walls to the linoleum tile on the floor to the entry desk. He has even added a rose-centered stained glass window, an image appropriated from Disney's Beauty and the Beast.

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Installation view of "Alex Da Corte: A Season in He'll"
Art + Practice, Los Angeles
Photo by Brian Forrest/Hammer Museum

His show, A Season in He'll, on view through September 17, is a concoction of symbolic narratives with wall-scale videos from which the props are presented as sculpture. The show is based on Arthur Rimbaud's 1873 prose poem A Season in Hell, which was driven in part by the end of a tortured love affair with Symbolist poet Paul Verlaine.

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Installation view of “Alex Da Corte: A Season in He'll”
Art + Practice, Los Angeles
Photo by Joshua White

Da Corte uses that history to explore motifs of demonization and desire from popular culture. A giant black witch's hat stands before a wall mounted neon sign of stars and the word "Night." Three highly theatrical videos of extreme color show an actor playing the artist and moving in slow motion he goes through the motions of using drink and drugs but with food rather than intoxicating substances. For example, he breaks an egg on the table and snorts the liquid. Props from this video, the candle, a bottle of oil, the syringe, are laid out on a table as artifacts. Music and the smells of sage or clove add to the sensory overload.

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Alex Da Corte, “A Night in Hell, Part II” (video still), 2014
Standard digital video, TRT 10:16
Courtesy of the artist

Behind a thin chain screen leading to another room painted in lurid purple, another video portrays a man wrapped from head to toe in gauze bandages yet in covered in flames as he falls in slow motion. Four ottomans shaped like hamburgers provide weirdly comfortable seating for watching the falling man as the act is repeated over and over again.

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Installation view of "Alex Da Corte: A Season in He'll"
Art + Practice, Los Angeles
Photo by Brian Forrest/Hammer Museum

Organized by Jamillah James, Da Corte's exhibition limns the seduction and sadness of addictive and painful love. Love for the promised but unattainable. In this case, "He'll" abbreviates "he will" in the knowledge that actually, he won't. Da Corte's show may allude to a love forbidden by society in the late 19th century but this show reminds us that love's frustrations and excesses are timeless.

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Shana Lutker, "Scenes from Chapter Four"
18th Street Arts Center, 2016
Exhibition detail
Photo by Erica Rodriguez

Another artist looking to the past is Shana Lutker. As Artist Lab resident at the 18th Street Arts Center, this Friday she holds what is billed as a "preview performance" based on a fistfight that took place between Symbolist and Surrealist artists on July 2, 1925. Set within her installation, it incorporates poetry and protests along with juggling and live music. Based on the fourth chapter of her ongoing research project, Le "New" Monocle: The History of the Fistfights of the Surrealists, this "performance-in-progress" is an introduction to Lutker's upcoming show, The Sleeping Poet and the Jongleuse, to be presented by LA >< ART on September 14 and 15 at Taix in Echo Park. This August 26 performance at 7pm is free but make a reservation.

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Shana Lutker, "Scenes from Chapter Four"
18th Street Arts Center, 2016
Exhibition detail
Photo by Erica Rodriguez

Producers:
Benjamin Gottlieb

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