At Deitch Projects in Soho I wandered through Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe's "Black Acid Co-op." The Times called it "an immense, labor-intensive, maniacally contrived walk-through environment. A warren of some dozen rooms, interiors and passageways, it includes a burned-out home methamphetamine lab, a red-carpeted gallery of pseudo-artworks and a hippie haven."
That sums it up, but the emotional experience of walking through the installation goes deeper. Quite simply, it fills you with delicious dread.
Moving from room to room, stepping through holes hacked in the walls and, in one case, through the back of an open refrigerator, is to walk through a vivid dystopia, with all of that world's attendant anxieties.
From a freaked-out wig shop, you go through a newspaper-strewn hall into a meth lab, into a trailer that's been burned from an apparent explosion. It stinks of charred plastic and foam. Another room is covered with filthy carpet remnants and peeling paint.
Even though you know it's "only art," your gut tells you to get out. These are the places where people are tied to radiators, tortured, and ritualistically slaughtered. Get out--before the owners come home.
The flimsy floor thumps with footsteps--and you jump.
Some relief from anxiety can be found in a red-carpeted, white-walled art gallery, but you don't want to linger here--it feels too clean, not charged enough. So you plunge back in. Down to the basement. It's a Chinese herbalist's shop, but nothing makes sense here, either. A rack of T-shirts are airbrushed with lurid pornographic images. Are those glass implements dildos or medical devices? What here is real?
A postmodern spook house for grownups, "Black Acid Co-op" feels like a trip into the mind of a sociopath. Each step takes you deeper into the pockets of misery, confusion, and violence that lurk there. For a little while, you have stepped into another person's brain. It's not a pretty place to be--but it will take you out of your skin.
See more photos of Black Acid Co-Op here