Preview James Franco’s ‘Rebel’ Art Exhibit in Los Angeles

Checking in on James Franco’s artistic efforts, the actor/artist/curator/writer/human-meta has just premiered his exhibit Rebel at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, featuring the work of Ed Ruscha, Terry Richardson, Paul McCarthy, Damon McCarthy, Harmony Korine, Aaron Young, Douglas Gordan, Galen Pehrson, Ed Ruscha and, of course, James Franco. The show interprets Nicolas Ray’s 1955 classic Rebel Without a Cause — one of Franco’s very well known obsessions — through sculpture, short film, and mixed media. Hosted at a pop-up annex location inside a 20,000 furniture exhibition space on Highland Avenue, it clusters in and around Paul McCarthy and his son Damon McCarthy’s recreation of Bungalow 2 at the Chateau Marmont, where Ray wrote and rehearsed Rebel Without a Cause with James Dean and Natalie Wood. One disturbed visitor described the experience as being “stranded in the psychotic maze of a serial murderer’s madhouse — as the environment incorporated circus tent colors, street graffiti, and disturbing raw sexual and murderous noises.” Here are a few press images of Bungalow 2’s contents. You’ll have to imagine the “noises.”

Some Rebel Without a Cause reinterpretations are more or less direct, like the Griffith Observatory knife fight via filmmaker provocateur Harmony Korine — a six-minute video set in a downtown parking garage as machete-swinging “real girl gangs” on BMX bikes battle it out with Franco, who also wields a severed prosthetic James Dean head. There are other, thematic connections — to American car culture (and an ode to Dean’s death in a Porsche crash from Aaron Young), to father and son dynamics (in madly scrawled drawings by Paul McCarthy), to the notion of idolatry (in Franco’s own short, Brad Renfro Forever). See the Franco-curated love letter to James Dean’s most epic role in the slideshow. Are you feeling it?

James Franco, still from Age 13, 2011. 30 minutes. Super-8 film transferred to digital with sound. Courtesy of the artist