The Ascension Party, 2017
In the 60’s an expression was coined, “Don’t Drink the Koolaid”, Koolaid being a powdered punch drink mix marketed to kids. In 1978, cult leader Jim Jones coerced over 900 followers to commit suicide by drinking Koolaid laced with cyanide in what became notoriously known as the Jonestown Massacre. Since then Koolaid became connotative of brainwashing of popular passing trends.
Students and teachers of Midrasha Continuation Studies are invited to the Ascension Party, a situation-specific installation utilizing American pop-culture references that suggest an ever-pervasive paranoia no longer definitive solely to cult groups or conspiracy theorists. Upon entering the space, a Koolaid commercial plays on loop, advertising a solution to treat paranoia – either through conformation to commonplace societal brainwashing, or in the form of a cult-like backlash. Adjacent to the video is a picnic table with Koolaid jugs and cups, an invitation for the guest to trust the artist - the host of their party.
Guests enter to discover a large kiddy-pool filled with floating black and white photos. As they approach, they find old pictures of themselves as well as their friends and families stolen from the Internet. High above the pool is a diving board with a rope ladder attached, designed in a style similar to Jacob’s ladder. The installation suggests an invitation to ascend like angels above impurity, it asks the viewers, “if everybody were to jump from this diving board into a depthless swimming pool, would you?”
On the far-side of the room is a craft-table inviting you to make your own tinfoil party hat. Tinfoil hats are another pop-culture reference to conspiracy theorists who would don them in order to prevent the government or aliens from reading their thoughts.
Finally, from the ceiling hangs a home-made piñata in the shape of a pig, filled with the artist’s anti-depressants. A sign invites the visitors to release their aggression at our common enemy – Piggy, or alternatively, “The Man”. The installation represents yet another invitation to be sucked into a mob, to join a lynch party, to resort to violence. Upon being hit, the piñata rains down a kind of Soma (i.e. Brave New World), relieving rebels from their societal angst.