Seminal performance artist Johanna Went returns to Santa Monica with Abulutions of a Nefarious Nature, a retrospective exhibition of costumes, photos and video, along with three live performances written and directed by Went, at 8 p.m. Saturdays, May 5th, 12th, and 19th, at the Track 16 Gallery, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica. Tickets are $18 for the performances.

The exhibition can be viewed until Saturday, May 19th.

Notorious for her blood and gut spilling work in punk rock clubs in the 1980s, Went continues to meet her audiences head-on with deconstructed characters, abstract costumes and a storm of bizarre imagery.

In Abulutions of a Nefarious Nature, the main character arrives at a remote location and becomes immersed in catastrophic events leaving her unsure if she is dead or alive. Like Persephoneís journey from world to underworld in Greek mythology, this character travels from the banks of a material-based reality to the shores of an intuitive existence, wading through the rivers of her unconscious, according to Track 16 Gallery.

At the heart of Wentís new work is an exploration of ancient collective symbolism. Wentís mysterious visions are often simultaneously comedic and horrific.

An array of costumes representing creatures and archetypal monsters, perform strange ceremonies and rituals.

Wentís cast of performers includes Tom Murrin (Alien Comic, Jack Bump); San Francisco painter, animator and performance artist Stephen Holman (Torture Chorus, Theatre Carnival, PooPoo Bomb); painter and performance artist Lauren Hartman (curator of Crazy Space); performance artist Marcus Kuiland-Nazario; and comedic actress Shelley Viall.

Went and her cast move to the music in odd directions and “foul up the stage with a collection of weird props, peculiar trash, unstructured concepts and psycho noise,” according to Track 16 Gallery. The intent of the presentation is to give meaning and form to both the light and dark sides of life, according to Track 16.

The performance features original music composed by Mark Wheaton. Wheaton has composed for and performed with Went in most of her productions since 1980. Carol McDowell, an interdisciplinary artist, will collaborate with Went in the direction, choreography and video.

Went has performed at music venues and art spaces in the United States and Europe, most notably at LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions); (COCA) Center on Contemporary Art in Seattle; UCLAís Schoenberg Hall; The Shaffy Theater (Amsterdam); The Magic Theater (San Francisco); The Contemporary Arts Forum (Santa Barbara); at Franklin Furnace (New York); Alice Tulley Hall at Lincoln Center in New York as part of the Serious Fun Festival; and at The Kitchen (New York).

USC professor Meiling Cheng included Went in her book, The Other Los Angeleses, which documented the Los Angeles performance scene. A portion of one of her performances was featured in Cathy Opieís film about performance artist Ron Athey, entitled Hallelujah. In addition to performance work, she has appeared in films, done vocal recordings and has exhibited her artwork.

Reservations required, (310) 264-4678.