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Regular fixtures in the art world, Jonathan and Lori teamed up to create a unique experience fueled entirely by the visitor’s imagination. Those brave enough to enter Dark Room were directed to walk through a pitch-black maze, trusting in only a rope to guide them along. With their sense of sight removed, visitors had to rely on other heightened instinctual senses while encountering obstacles they could touch and hear. A giant camera flash spooked visitors at end of their journey, capturing a terrified face amongst a surprise pile of not-so-scary sculpture made from recycled materials such as teddy bears, golden trophies, and a pile of beer cans. Upon exiting, each person received a card with a link to see their uploaded photograph amongst the complete absence of horror.

Each night of Dark Room’s three night productions displayed a different surprise grouping of recycled sculpture representing human conditions and experiences that are very unlike fear. Jonathan and Lori spent weeks collecting teddy bears from thrift stores for the first night’s sculpture called “Unconditional Love.” They single-handedly recycled dozens of beer and soda cans for the second night titled “Pleasure.” The final evening display consisted of a pile of trophies, frames, crowns and knick knacks painted gold to create what appeared to be a recycled treasure trove called “Success.”

The installation lobby was also an homage to the environmental. Giant bags of garbage hanging from the ceiling, aptly named “Trash Toss” were positioned as if frozen mid-throw to the curb. Starkly contrasting with the recycled materials used inside Dark Room, Trash Toss could be seen as a warning or reminder of the amount of waste humans produce, and its inevitable encroachment on our ever-shrinking living space, especially in New York.

After the installation completed its run, the aluminum cans were recycled while many of the remaining pieces were donated to New York’s Materials for the Arts run by the Department of Cultural Affairs.

+ Jonathan Grassi

+ Lori Zimmer

images courtesy of Jonathan Grassi