MOCA’s Rebel: Deja Vu All Over Again


Popped by the opening of Rebel, which is presented by MOCA and conceived by James Franco with other artists like Harmony Korine, Damon McCarthy, Paul McCarthy, Terry Richardson, Ed Ruscha and Aaron Young on view at JF Chen on Highland. Like the title suggests, it’s an ode to the iconic film Rebel Without A Cause and everything that surrounded it. It’s set up like a peep show at the Chateau Marmont (you enter under a re-creation of the hotel’s famous sign) with film and video installations set up in bungalows that you follow around a plant-covered, blow-up doll-filled path. There are also photographs, drawings, paintings, and sculptures. The set up is clever. Some of the films screened are not for the timid and the animated vignette El Gato by Galen Pehrson reminded me of a very special episode of Different Strokes (Gordon Jump plays a pedophile who shows dirty cartoons to the kids). But a woman next to me watching the animated short kept saying, “This is so f*&#ing great,” over and over again, so what do I know.

I walked into a dark room where Douglas Gordon’s piece entitled Henry Rebel Drawing and Burning plays on two screens. Henry is Dennis Hopper’s son. One of the actor’s first movie roles was in this film and he is part of the myth that surrounds the Nicholas Ray-directed movie. I stood there in the dark watching Henry writhe around onscreen and draw all over himself with red marker. When I looked to my left I saw the profile of a young Dennis Hopper in the low light and realized Henry was standing beside me watching himself (he has an uncanny resemblance to his dad). We smiled and nodded at one another. I remember going to see a screening of Hopper’s The Last Movie (1971) at the Laemmle on 2nd Street about 15  years ago. He was there, and I sat near the actor and caught a peep now and then of Hopper watching himself in the darkened theatre. I ran into him at many events afterwards, too. Years later, by chance, I even moved two blocks away from his Venice compound and attended MOCA events hosted there. Warhols, Schnabels, and Basquiats covered the walls like expensive wallpaper. It is so fitting that his son is part of Rebel because of his late father’s work and his years spent as part of the art scene. As Hopper would’ve said, “Cool, man.” The show is free to the public and open Tuesday—Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Photos: Douglas Gordon Henry Rebel, 2011 Featuring Henry Hopper 93 minutes looped Video installation, two HD video projections, and sound © Douglas Gordon, lost but found film limited and produced by James Franco, 2011 Courtesy of the Artist