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James Franco’s “Rebel” Caps Off MOCA Run With A Celebration

Sarah Ledesma |
June 26, 2012 | 7:32 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Aaron Young, Grapevine, 2011 (Photograph by Sarah Ledesma)
Aaron Young, Grapevine, 2011 (Photograph by Sarah Ledesma)
Wrapping up its six-week run at the MOCA,“Rebel” closed out with LA street style flare on Saturday.  The exhibit paid homage to James Dean’s iconic film Rebel Without A Cause (1955), and was the brain child of A-list pop culture doppelganger to Dean, James Franco. Franco enlisted modern art heavy weights Ed Ruscha, Terry Richardson, Damon McCarthy, Paul McCarthy, Douglas Gordon, Harmony Corine, and Aaron Young to round out the concept for his mixed media interpretive tribute to the classic film.

As a disclaimer, I am a fan of James Franco however, I was not a fan of this exhibit and I looked hard to sift through the exhibit's muddled mixed media offering to find merit in the artist’s presentations.  The exhibit was originally intended for the Venice Biennale and one wonders if it failed to make it up to snuff to the Venetians strictly discerning artistic since of appeal.

Some say art is intended to evoke emotion.  The emotion evoked after attending closing night of Franco and companies “Rebel” exhibit was that of experience the abysmal college showcase at the end of freshman undergraduate’s formative years.   

It seems nothing evades Franco’s endless pool of talent.  Graduating from UCLA, NYU, and Columbia respectively with cumulative MFA degrees in writing he proves his stellar aptitude for deconstructing a thought process.  While yielding an impressive scholarly aptitude, he leaves something to be desired in the artistic curator process.

It is important to note standalone artists Ed Ruscha and Terry Richardson delivered excellent contributions to the exhibit withtheir concentrated areas of expertise in print and photography.  Their pieces were in character to their artistic repertoires and were some of the best received by patrons visiting the exhibit.

On a positive note, Franco’s essay in the program introducing the exhibit titled, “Some James Dean Shit” is a well thought out exploration of his artistic relationship to Dean and the rationale behind the exhibits presentation.  Blanketed in Hollywood landmark signs like the Chateau Marmont Hotel and the iconic Hollywood sign flipped upside down, “Rebel” gives the since of the disconnect between the hyper realized portray of Hollywood glamour and its effect on dis-affected artistic youth.

Closing night attendees included Jena Malone and Terry Richardson.  Malone was a voice in in one of the exhibit’s short animated films “El Gato” by Galen Pehrson.  The event was quite LA chic with food trucks on hand to accompany the outdoor screening of Franco’s film “Rebel.”  It was definitely the place to see and be seen for the young Hollywood crowd but fell flat to impress the art world critics as it was being panned by the Los Angeles Times art critic.

Overall “Rebel” has a concept that had passion and intelligence behind its effort but fell a little bit flat in the realm of well-constructed artistic curation. If you missed the limited run well, you didn’t miss much. 

Reach reporter Sarah here. Follow her on Twitter.



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