James Franco walked around the MOCA’s serpentine gallery space on Saturday, contemplating the final stroke to his ambitious exhibition “Rebel,” a conceptual exploration of the James Dean pic “Rebel Without a Cause.” At one point, Franco instructed an assistant to hoist a blowup sex doll into the air between two video projections. The show — a collaboration between Franco and artists including Ed Ruscha, Douglas Gordon and Harmony Korine, among others — offers a lot of skin, plastic and human, with naked women scurrying through video installations on multiple walls.
Photos of Franco in drag stand out from the lascivious romp. “This guy Kabuki did my makeup for like two or three hours,” Franco recalled. “I guess he used to do Michael Jackson’s makeup or something, and then we shot for like an hour and that was it.”
The thesp insisted that the explicit material was all in the service of mining Dean’s 1955 drama.
“There’s so much sexuality underneath the original film and I feel like there is so much sexuality implied in teen films today,” Franco explained. “Everything from ‘Twilight’ to ‘Kids’ or whatever, but some of them don’t own what they are doing or what they are selling.”