WEIRDLAND: James Franco becomes James Dean in "Rebel" project at Venice Biennale

Saturday, May 14, 2011

James Franco becomes James Dean in "Rebel" project at Venice Biennale

"James Franco is at it again. Like the artist’s "General Hospital"-goes-to-MOCA fiction-reality mash-up last year, his new project associated with the Venice Biennale promises to be a case where "high" art and pop culture fuse into one mind-bending Moebius strip.

Called "Rebel" it’s a site-specific installation/exhibition that pays homage to the 1955 movie "Rebel Without a Cause", with contributions by Franco, Douglas Gordon, Harmony Korine, Damon McCarthy, Paul McCarthy, Ed Ruscha and Aaron Young. The curator is Dominic Sidhu, who recently curated a show of artwork from the movie "Black Swan". MOCA is listed as the “partnering organization”, which a spokesperson says means “we are primarily a promotional partner.”
Expect bad-boy antics, in various works exploring themes of masculinity, self-destruction and Hollywood with Ruscha chiming in at some point as a narrator. Gordon has made a multi-channel film on method acting with actor Henry Hopper, Dennis Hopper’s son. Car Korine makes his own piece reinterpreting the classic switchblade fight scene in the original movie with machetes wielded by two female gangs instead. Young provides footage of motorcycle and car crashes.
Natalie Wood and James Dean as Judy and Jim Stark in "Rebel without a cause" (1955)

Paul and Damon McCarthy make a video exploring the making of the original “Rebel” movie that features Franco in the role of James Dean. It's a role he knows well--he played Dean in a 2001 TNT movie.
James Franco characterized as James Dean

Franco, who had a hand in the other artists’ projects, also made work for this show in homage to the actor Brad Renfro, who died in 2008 at age 25 of a heroin overdose. He had Renfro’s name carved into his right arm with a switchblade, documenting the carving in photography and film. (The carving itself could be seen as one of the show’s more permanent artworks)".

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