Transformation at Its Most Crafted


Upon first entering Scenario in the Shade, the extensive new project by artists Justin Lowe and Jonah Freeman, in collaboration with performer and musician Jennifer Herrema, I was scratching my head wondering if I read the address wrong. Am I at Red Bull Studios on 18th street?

After a few double takes I realized that the eerie deserted bodega vibe is all part of the show. Even the entrance is meticulously crafted to resemble some sort of mall security office with a metal partition and a sign that reads "shoplifters will be prosecuted." A narrow winding hallway leads people to an open area with fluorescent lighting reminiscent of a haphazardly organized souvenir shop with lines of sunglasses, t-shirts, scarves and even over-the-counter medication, with labels specifically created for the installation. As you veer left you find yourself in an adjacent room that would make any electrician excited (or perhaps terrified) filled with loose wires, broken gadgets, old televisions and the lot.

The project overall has ten rooms and each has its own distinctive personality. These artists worked hard and on every detail. Nothing is arbitrary and the impact is felt especially as you head further into the maze. The rooms become more stylized and resemble movie sets from different eras ranging from Victorian style furnishing to a psychedelic den fit for a love fest in the 1960s.

Lowe and Freeman have expanded upon an imaginary sub-cultural world that has been the nexus of their public projects, which debuted at the former Deitch Projects, since 2009. This world is filled with vivid inspirations of drug, sex and rock 'n' roll fused with a bit of Kubrickian science fiction.

At Red Bull Studios the artists had the luxury of being able to use immense space to sprawl out and create one of their largest environments to date and include a first time sonic collaboration with Jennifer Herrema who composed a soundtrack for each room and a 28 minute film that closes out the show in the back room -- a glossy production that reflects some of the common motifs for which the artists have become most known.

Take your time with this one, because the artists did. See it before it closes on December 6.