KILL JOY’S CASTLE:
A feminist, lesbian, haunted house.
This October, artist Allyson Mitchell created a response to hell houses – those terribly creepy evangelical inventions that attempt to warn youth of the dangers of sin with very explicit set-design and theatrical reenactments.
Mitchell’s project, done in collaboration with about 25 other artists – many of them my friends, was an immersive, satirical experience. Highlights included a real live carpet muncher, a 14 foot fertility goddess, the poly-amorous grannies and some fucking amazing signs. Sadly, I wasn’t able to get in on opening night when the bulk of the live performances that activated the space occurred. The crowd ringed the block with 2 – 3 hour wait times to get it. In particular, I was disappointed to have missed drinking down one of the Fastwurms witch’s piss shots given from prosthetic dicks (those used to fake drug tests). We managed to get in on the closing evening when our “demented women studies professor guide” seemed to be loosing steam. All the same, I was glad we made it through and found it a thought-provoking installation that was a hella-lot of fun.
As you can imagine, it garnered a lot of commentary. Sun News apparently camped out front for a couple of days, attempting to infiltrate the castle with this little gem of a confused amateur video being produced: http://www.torontosun.com/2013/10/30/taxpayers-funding-lesbian-haunted-house-in-toronto
I had heard about the project months earlier when Mitchell had come to my grad seminar and shown us sketches and we had all had a brainstorming session. Afterwards, one of the male students in the class expressed real horror at the anti-male sentiments expressed by the plans, particularly the ball-busting rooms and images of boy-baby castration. All this created some long-heated beer fuelled debate that I became bored with in about 10 minutes. Yawn. whatever. Felt like I was back in grade 11 English class and some kid in the corner couldn’t understand why Swift wanted to eat poor babies.
If you are interested, here is a pretty decent article written through Canadian Art Online: http://www.canadianart.ca/reviews/2013/10/29/allyson-mitchell-killjoys-kastle/ …make sure to check out the slideshow.