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Part I: Actor, artist and curator James Franco reveals the genesis of his visceral art-film crossover exhibition, REBEL, in the first installment of filmmaker Matt Black’s two-part exposé. Inspired by the mythology surrounding Nicholas Ray’s pioneering 1955 film Rebel Without a Cause, the show at LA’s MOCA includes collaborations with a stellar cast of leading contemporary artists, including Paul and Damon McCarthy, Aaron Young, Harmony Korine, Ed Ruscha, Terry Richardson and Douglas Gordon. Working closely with Franco, the artists reinterpreted and remixed the main themes, scenes and tragic events of the original—from the automotive death of lead actor James Dean to the rumored affair between the 44-year-old Ray and 16-year-old starlet Natalie Wood—all set inside a replica of LA’s iconic Chateau Marmont. “James created a relationship with each of the contributors; he is the narrative in between them,” says Black. “It's almost as if James was making a movie and cast them as actors to fulfill all the roles.” Franco plays a central part in the show’s take on Ray’s teen-angst masterpiece. In Korine's short paying homage to the movie's famous knife fight outside the Griffith Observatory, Franco faces off with a BMX-riding posse of naked female gangsters. For another, he had tattoo artist Mark Mahoney carve the name of late actor Brad Renfro, who passed away in 2008 at the age of 26 from a heroin overdose, into his shoulder with a switchblade. More
Part II: In the second part of Matt Black's exposé, artist-actor James Franco talks through the tangled mythology of Rebel Without a Cause and how it shaped his art-film mash-up at MOCA. Featuring the likes of Paul and Damon McCarthy, Aaron Young, Harmony Korine, Ed Rusha, Terry Richardson and Douglas Gordon, REBEL explores the legends embroiling Nicholas Ray’s 1955 epoch defining tale of teenage rebellion within a twisted replica of the film's spiritual home, Chateau Marmont. Ray was living at the cult LA hotel when he first encountered James Dean—who turned up un-introduced, unannounced and accompanied by gothic starlet Vampira to perform two full backflip somersaults as an impromptu audition for the role that would immortalize him as a teen icon. “It became about creating the Chateau Marmont, for the artists and for Franco himself. Everything was set up to see all the films play in that same world,” explains Black. “When you see it all together, using the Chateau at the center, it takes on a different energy.” Riffing off the movie’s intrigues, Paul and Damon McCarthy replicated Ray’s Bungalow to re-enact his and Wood’s affair, while Aaron Young smashed a 1950 Ford Custom Tudor Coupe onto the desert floor from 80 feet up to mark Dean’s death in a fatal car crash barely a month before the film was released.More