“A dark warehouse at night. Outside you must wait for a guide to take you in a small group and lead you around the exhibit inside. It will be completely dark, you will be blindfolded, and you will be relying on all-but-your-visual senses to experience this show.”
Sign me up! While I waited for my blindfolded experience at the warehouse, I drank cocktails made of elderflower and artisanal moonshine, because that’s all there was.
“This is Rachel. She’ll be your guide.” The warehouse maitre’d introduced us. Rachel had a few questions before we began.
“Are you allergic to dairy? Horses? Do you have a fear of flying?” I tittered, as my mind whirled with overexcited
I was in a group of four. We solemnly donned our blindfolds. Goodbye, world. Rachel gave us a rope to hold, to keep us together as we went from art installation to art installation.
Station 1. Open Wide.
Most of the stations had an artist present, explaining the gist of our non-visual experience.
“The tongue is amazing, isn’t it? It licks, it forms words, it tastes, it nanny, nanny boo boos. Now open your mouth for a decadent bite. I’m going to put a spoon in your mouth. Remove the spoon on your own.”
I opened my mouth. In came a spoonful of Poprocks and chocolate mousse. Some of the chocolate got on my face.
“Open WIDE,” Rachel admonished me. I was glad I couldn’t see anyone looking at me with chocolate all over my stupid face. Damn it! I came here to win!
Station 2. The Executioner
The next station involved going up some stairs, and trying not to grab the butt of the person in front of you while you struggled with uncertainty.
Rachel instructed us to sit on a row of movie theater chairs. “If anyone is afraid of having a bag placed over their head, raise your hand.”
We took turns standing to receive the bag. “When you’re ready for the experience to end, raise your hand.” The bag was heavy and very hot. Is this meant to replicate the womb? Are we supposed to think about what being led to the gallows feels like?
A moment went by. Was something else going to happen? I never raised my hand – after the chocolate snafu, I was not about to be the first one out of the bag. I may be an oaf, but damn it, I’m not a coward!
Eventually someone removed the bag. I panicked. Was I a weirdo for staying in the bag that long? How long did everyone else stay in their bags? WHAT DOES RACHEL THINK OF ME?
Station 3. Sniff my shorts.
An artist handed me iPod buds. On the iPod, a recording of woman instructed me to turn, and sniff the Goodwill clothes hanging from a railing. I’m pretty sure I sniffed harder than anyone else. Back in the game.
Station 4. misc. shit
Back down the treacherous staircase.
“Find the key,” the artist told us, handing us each a purse filled with a bunch of shit. ON IT. All my senses honed in on my target. I listened carefully for the tell-tale jangle. I was a key-seeking missile. And sure enough, I was the first one in my group to find the key. LOOK OUT! Blue ribbon badass coming through!
Later, I learned the artist at Station 4 described his mixed media as “misc. shit in bag” on the exhibition brochure.
Station 5. Get down on your knees.
Rachel helped us kneel on some cushions. A woman sang a beautiful line about Ave Maria, and moistened each of our foreheads in the shape of a cross.
I was by far the most contemplative, but I have no way to prove it. This station was useless to me.
Station 6. Mambo number 5
“Pain is an important sensation.” I GET IT! I GET WHY THIS IS RIGHT AFTER THE CATHOLIC THING!
“Hold up your fingers to tell me your pain tolerance, on a scale of 1 to 5.” I held up five fingers. Gimme what you got, baby.
“Yikes.” You get it, artist lady. I am one bad bitch.
First a few firm pokes, followed by a tiny ball of spikes. “Here comes the jellyfish!” Dangling strings brushed my hands and I felt tiny, electric sparks. Then, some wraps with a leather strap.
Didn’t even hurt.
Station 7. Book learnin’
We laid down on some fake grass. Coming from somewhere above my head, I could hear a woman singing what I suspected was “The Lamb” by William Blake. At the end of the show, reading the dossier about what was at each of the exhibits, my suspicions were confirmed.
I am kicking this art exhibit’s ass!
Station 8. Ready for take off
Rachel led us into a structure that, somehow, felt like a dome. Synthesizers, bells, and the sound of a wet finger tracing the rim of a wine glass filled the room. I never wanted to leave. I said so out loud, so everyone would know how much I ruled.
Rachel reintroduced us into the world of sight in a small vestibule, after she closed the door. We never got to see the warehouse without our blindfolds. I contemplated bursting back in. But what if I did, and all the artists shook their heads like, “Man, she really doesn’t get it”?
I’d rather die.