NOWNESS: Inside James Franco’s Rebel


Inside Rebel: Part One from Matt Black on Nowness.com.

Inside Rebel: Part Two from Matt Black on Nowness.com.

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.

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