“HAS IT REALLY BEEN TEN YEARS?” more than one partygoer wondered aloud last Friday night at the opening of Dave Muller’s resurrected Three Day Weekend (TWD). Indeed, it had been nearly a decade since the artist hosted one of his performance-exhibition events in Los Angeles, the last taking place at the Hammer Museum in late 2002. But apart from a few more silver foxes and a handful of children (two belonging to Muller and his wife, Ann Faison), very little seemed to have changed since the heyday of those storied parties. Tecate and ice cubes filled a clawfoot bathtub; art was installed on a folding table; turntables, speakers, and instruments were properly amplified; and a satisfied Muller held court over a steadily growing crowd of artists, curators, bloggers, students, musicians, kids, and the odd adventurous neighbor.
The TDW revival—titled She’s Not There (a riff on a 1994 TDW, Dave’s Not Here?)—was held over Cinco de Mayo weekend and came about largely at the urging of writer Andrew Berardini. “A friend of mine said that Dave’s generation all went into hiding when they had children,” Berardini explained. “Now many of them are starting to trickle back out. As a fan of Dave and his work, I wanted younger people to get to know him in his most natural habitat, the Three Day Weekend.” Persistence paid: “Every time Andrew and I hung out, TDW would come up.” said Muller. “Finally he came up with an offer I couldn’t refuse.” That offer came with a venue: the Eastside gallery Public Fiction, which was free for the weekend while its proprietress, Lauren Mackler, took part in MoCA’s “Transmission LA: AV Club,” a seventeen-day festival with curators selected by Mike D.
As for other “shes” not attending She’s Not There, the most conspicuous no-show was Frances Stark, who was listed in the announcement, alongside fifteen other participants, with “**pending (fingers crossed)” by her name. Stark, in absentia, supplied Muller with a copy of her work Trapped in the VIP and/or In Mr. Martin’s Inoperable Cadillac, a sound work that was concurrently being played in the VIP BMWs at Frieze New York. “I wanted to rent a BMW for this piece, but all I could get was a Chevy Malibu,” explained Muller, who had taped drawn BMW logos onto the car.
Inside the gallery was a weird little drawing by Anthony Burdin; the contents page from Charles Ray’s 1992 magazine Ruh Roh; fluorescent-tube sculptures by Eli Langer; works by Mark Grotjahn, Aurie Ramirez, Scoli Acosta, Lauren Spencer King, Zoe Crosher, and others. At one point, Muller auctioned off, in reverse, one of the works, a D’Ette Nogle boxed edition, which sold to the lowest bidder for zero dollars.
Less a critique of market rituals than an earnest attempt to find the work a deserving home, the auction was one of several happenings and music performances over the weekend. On Friday, Corey Fogel played a hypnotic, rolling drum solo on a kit wrapped in hot pink spandex. “I just throw myself into it to see what comes out the other side,” he reflected. Artist and Holloys frontman Jim Brown channeled recent jungle travels in his set, which looped solo guitar, voice, trumpet, and drum machine into driving, danceable tribal rhythms. The Calder Quartet performed an hour-long work commissioned by a young composer from The Hague, Kate Moore. The twelve-channel orchestration for string (eight recorded tracks and four played live) shifted in and out of harmony, throwing phantom pitches around the room during its duration. “A piece like that really separates the wheat from the chaff,” someone said.
Saturday night was mellow by comparison. Under the colossal supermoon, with sounds of parties in the distance, Muller DJ’d while the small crowd danced. Across from Fogel’s pink drum set (now littered with jacaranda blossoms) hung the exhibition’s centerpiece: Muller’s six-foot-tall drawing of a black drum set placed on a zebra-print rug. The source material was a picture of Mike Kelley’s drum set, which Muller had shot at a party Kelley threw in January 2011. “He always put his drums on that zebra rug,” said Muller. “It was the wallpaper image on my phone for a year before he died. After that, its meaning changed radically for me.” Impressively, Muller started the sizable drawing on May 1 and had it framed and delivered to Public Fiction three days later. Sometimes the urge to lay bare a loss still fresh comes from the same place as the compulsion to get social. And for a community rattled by a looming absence, She’s Not There offered a much-needed presence.