Sara June, Max Lord, Jane Weng - Spiritual Kingdom @ Mobius 2/7

<br>10PM February 7, 2014



At 9:30PM, I was way too early for my appointed time of 10PM for Spiritual Kingdom at Mobius on February 7, 2014. I kicked the snow around for a little bit and debated going in and just waiting until my appointed time slot. From what I could see, the space was curtained off and there seemed to be a narrow waiting area; on the door it asked guests to take off their shoes before entering, and there was 70s symbol of a bonsai tree and circles around it. I interpret this as a fusion between Western and Eastern religious ideals. On the sill, there was a little glowing crystal light, and on the other windowsill, I saw a picture frame and an older video camera. Ultimately, I didn’t want to interrupt whatever was happening, though I could hear some muffled sounds from inside the gallery. I decided to go warm up at CVS and bought some bubble gum and closer to 9:50PM, I ventured back to Mobius.

            I decided to be daring and walk inside at about 9:55PM; I was greeted by a man, who I learned later was Max Lord. He asked me to get comfortable and settle in and once I was ready, he would come get me and the performance would begin. I sat down in a metal chair to the right and put aside my bag, took off my boots, and took off my jacket. I nervously chomped on my bubble gum and after a few minutes, Max Lord escorted me through the curtains. Meanwhile, he told me that the performance was 10 minutes and that I could feel free to interact with the space. Of course, with my art school background, I don’t touch the artwork unless I am invited to, and Max’s instructions were vague. What I saw took me by surprised; the Mobius with black walls had completely transformed into a gray room occupied by two faceless gray creatures and their furniture. The one to my left was pacing back and forth on a 5’X5’ gray rug, while the other one adjusted the timer, which was going backwards, counting down my session in this surreal encounter. I also know very little about Phillip K. Dick but I know he’s a science fiction writer with dense written works.

            My hearing and what I saw was overloaded and I was overwhelmed initially, but in a way that caused me to have a nervous laughter reaction. I wasn’t scared, but very curious and taken off guard. After taking in the space, the next immediate thing I gravitated towards was the chalk writing on the wall.  The white writing seemed like a mad person’s writings and ramblings. Not a whole lot of it made sense to me except for this reoccurring date, which was “2-3-74.” I made my way around the space, and the inaudible noises were reminiscent of old radio broadcasting and recordings that were breaking up and unclear. There was a vintage TV that had no signal and reminded me a lot of a lot of media tropes regarding the 50s era. I counted six stands that had several objects on them. Before I could really look, the one creature on my left was now in the right corner of the room and the other one was on the floor kneeling and looking at something with a laser, which has a red, indiscernible image projecting from it. I followed the laser like a cat and noticed several “family portraits.”

I glanced at the counter every so often to see how much time I had left. I had enough time to really look at the gray creatures. They both had an orifice, generally where the mouth would be but it was dark, obscuring the person underneath. Their bodies were completely covered, except for when the wool or knitted material occasionally stretched to show their skin underneath. Their hands were mittens and it was like an adult knitted onesie in stockinet. Something about the two, reminded me of cats, but that might have something to do with the portraits that had one of the gray creatures holding a black and white cat. There were several pictures and many objects to take in. There was a moment where one of the gray creatures found a writing implement and wrote on the wall. At another time, the other one wrote on the floor, “2-3-74.” At some point, one of the gray creatures turned on an old alarm clock radio which was the only understanding audio that I absorbed; it was a live radio show with a man for a host and an older woman was calling in, for what I assumed for a request or to ask a question.

The first table on the right had a kitschy porcelain dog and cat with some chalk writing underneath them. On the second tier of this table was the old fashioned radio. The next table had documents on it, I believe, alluding to radiation or some type of official looking manuscript. The next table had a lamp, and a small crystal sitting on a pile of white grain, that might have been salt or sand. On the floor near it was the chalk implement. In the middle of the space on a nightstand was the television and on the floor an open book that looked pretty old. On the other wall, the first table had more writing implements and I assume where the laser and lights were. The center was where the counter was and I can’t recall what was on the last table, except a small speaker underneath. There were a few documents and paperwork on scattered about on these tables.  Many minute and written materials are difficult to recall right now, but the words that stand out to me were “radiation” and “death.” Those two words alone allowed me to begin to assemble this dreamlike world. I looked at the counter and saw that I had about a few minutes left and I decided to kneel on the floor. One of the gray creatures came near and for a second we seemed to make a connection. I wanted to pet the creature but I knew it was a person underneath. However, this creature got pretty close to me, and seemed to be telling me it was okay to interact with them. I sat still, unsure of what to do. I felt the creature’s arm brush my arm and then she crawled away at a diagonal.

At the last minute to last 45 seconds, I realized that this piece was pretty sad and despondent, but it was sadness and strangeness I enjoyed. I didn’t want it to end, because I wanted to stay and get to know this world a little while longer. Towards the last 30 seconds, I came up with a narrative. These two creatures were the children of the gray creature in the picture with the cat. That gray creature had passed or last least their former self had passed. The old technology grips to a time that’s long and passed, and in a sense become obsolete. Are people obsolete like these objects as well? Individuals get lost in transmission and what are left are the objects and relics they leave behind. What happened to the cat? Did it die from radiation as well? What was the source of the radiation, WWII or cancer? The sounds and the imagery are still in my mind, foggy and monotone. The lights and lasers reminded me of radiation treatment.  Any religious notes, I completely missed. I imagine that it was mostly written on the wall and in the scriptures presented in the letters. These two creatures were trying to tell me something, I couldn’t begin to fathom in 10 minutes. The buzzer went off and my visit was over, I chuckled because I wasn’t part of that world, but I was really happy to experience it for a short while. Three women were waiting for their turn. I was all smiles and chatted with Max Lord for a little bit. I took one last look at this really sympathetic looking Jesus portrait that was next to a sign that stated the performance lasted 10 minutes and it was over at the buzz. Then I left, and came home and had to write about this unique experience called, “Spiritual Kingdom.” I think I just came to and from purgatory.