James Franco's presence in the art and literature worlds revolve around an obsession with masculine youth in all its angsty, confused and violent glory. Between his interest in portraying male rebellion and his movie star looks, it makes sense that Franco's upcoming exhibition "Rebel" revolves around James Dean's pivotal role in the classic film "Rebel Without A Cause."
"Rebel" is an ode to Nicholas Ray's 1955 film, reviving and reinterpreting its themes of masculinity, abandonment, and peer pressure. The exhibition will explore the complex dynamics between father and son, fact and fiction, Hollywood and the art world. Artists participating in "Rebel" are a sort of fast crowd in themselves: Douglas Gordon, Harmony Korine, Damon McCarthy, Paul McCarthy, Terry Richardson, Ed Ruscha and Aaron Young are all participating. Also featured are iconic Hollywood sites such as Griffith Park and the Chateau Marmont.
One video installation features Paul McCarthy as Nicholas Ray and Franco as Dean, reenacting events that were rumored to have happened during the making of "Rebel Without A Cause." Another work, "Caput", is a short film by Harmony Korine, reenacting the legendary knife fight between Jim and Buzz outside the Griffith Observatory. Except in Korine's version, the two teenage boys are replaced with two female BMX riding gangs and the switchblades with machetes.
Throughout "Rebel" raging hormones and deep thoughts turn both fact and fiction into one dripping drama. This melding of past and present, film and life, is what Hollywood is all about. "Rebel" will show from May 15 – June 23 at J.F. Chen in Los Angeles. The exhibition is presented by MOCA. The fact that this is all taking place in the exhibition space of a notable dealer has caused a stir in the arts community these past few months.
What is James Franco's fascination with street gangs, exactly? Is he playing a massive prank on all of us? Let us know your hypotheses in the comments section.