Head-Scratcher

Robbie D.'s perplexing pageantry

FRI-SAT 11/26-27

Remember that part of Eraserhead when big-haired Henry can't sleep because of the constant crying of his mutant baby and he starts to have visions of a tiny singing, dancing lady living in his radiator? The way you feel while watching those scenes -- a cross between "Wow, this is amazing" and "What the fuck?" -- is analogous to the state of mind conjured up by singer/artist Robbie D. The multitalented man is known for his stellar voice (often compared to those of David Bowie and Jacques Brel), costume wizardry (his stage finery and sets are cleverly constructed out of paper), turntable acuity ("Trannyshack" habitués may remember his three-year stint as house mixmaster), and eerie storytelling skills. Put them all together and you have "Telekinesis," a blend of Robbie's original songs and oddball anecdotes, cover versions of campy Marie Osmond and Air Supply tunes, and creepy-cool get-ups and set pieces illuminated by mysterious lighting effects. Take a peek into Robbie D.'s weird world at 9 p.m. Friday and 10 p.m. Saturday at the Dark Room Theater, 2263 Mission (at 18th Street), S.F. Admission is $12; call 401-7987 or visit www.robbied.com.
-- Joyce Slaton

Elephantitis

Robbie D., in his dandy mode.
Matthu Anderson & Zaldy
Robbie D., in his dandy mode.
A still from See the Elephant!
Ryan Junell
A still from See the Elephant!
Erwin Wurm's Thinking About Kant.
Erwin Wurm's Thinking About Kant.
Movie lover Henri Langlois.
Jacques Richard
Movie lover Henri Langlois.

FRI-SAT 11/26-27

Maybe you think "video installation" is something the cable guy does. Maybe you're a red stater. Or maybe you don't want to hear about elections ever again. Though any of these situations might make you an unlikely audience for a multiscreen presentation of footage from the Republican National Convention shot by a scrappy bunch of local camera-slingers, we're going to recommend that you check out See the Elephant! anyway. As the project's director, Ryan Junell, puts it, "I know revisiting political stuff right now is kinda sensitive ... but fuck it. We witnessed so much crazy stuff." Several crews recorded material during the New York convention -- from the inside with delegates, from the outside with protesters and authorities, and from the more traditional viewpoint: shoulder-to-shoulder with mass media. The edited results, combined with an original soundtrack by Lesser, look fascinating no matter what you think of art, Republicans, or politics in general. Screenings start at 8 and 9:30 p.m. at Studio 1-2-3, 401 Alabama (at 17th Street), S.F. Admission is $5-20; call 320-2487 or visit www.seetheelephant.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser

Earth Wurm
Artist confuses reality

ONGOING 11/24-1/9

You have probably made Erwin Wurm's style of art. The Austrian is best known for a series called One Minute Sculptures, works that involve people following his simple "instruction manual" and being photographed by him. So if you've ever, say, bent at the waist and put your head against a wall, then you have, unknowingly, made an Erwin Wurm sculpture. Bit into an apple and held it in your mouth in a restaurant? Ditto. If you haven't before, there's nothing stopping you now.

The "Wait -- what?" reaction that many viewers have is exactly what Wurm seems to be looking for. Like a lot of artists, he wants his audience to confront the contradictions and possibilities offered by the humdrum-seeming realities of everyday life. Unlike a lot of artists, though, he's completely successful at it, and Sculptures is only one series. Others include How to Be Politically Incorrect and Thinking About Philosophers. His photo of a man's torso protruding horizontally through the wall of an ornate hallway is a good example: A child could see through its artifice, but that's not the point. We won't presume to say what the point is, because it seems to us that the introduction of such unexpected and uncomplicated elements into more or less familiar environments makes its own point.

A Wurm overview, "I Love My Time, I Don't Like My Time: Recent Work by Erwin Wurm," includes the above-mentioned photo series (and others) plus videos and the artist's forays into digital animation. It's on view through Jan. 9 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission (at Third Street), S.F. Admission is $3-6; call 978-2787 or visit www.ybca.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser

The Ultimate Cinéaste

SAT 11/27

Without Henri Langlois there might be no Roxie, no Castro, no theater showing art-house films and classic revivals. During an era when movies were considered disposable, Langlois preserved them, and in 1935 he began showing his obscure and treasured finds to a growing crowd of enthusiasts. Uncover an epoch of cinematic history with the premiere screening of the documentary Henri Langlois: The Phantom of the Cinémathèque at 7 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive, 2575 Bancroft (at Bowditch), Berkeley. Admission is $4-8; call (510) 642-1124 or visit www.bampfa.berkeley.edu.
-- Joyce Slaton

Disco Inferno

FRI 11/26

Recapture Burning Man's colorful spirit at the "Burning Man '70s Outdoor Roller Disco Party." Launched by members of Camp Roller Disco, the party gets going on the last monthly Friday; participants show up in full Black Rock City style drag. Strap on your wheels at 8 p.m. at Market & Embarcadero, S.F. Participation is free (renting skates is $5); call 752-1967 or visit www.cora.org.
-- Joyce Slaton

 
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