In early 2011, I heard rumor about the Lost Horizons Night Market. The concept is, basically, an art installation built into the back of a truck. And this installation was based on anything that people wanted to do. I got on the mailing list and attended my first meeting to learn more about it. It sounded exciting and different than the usual gallery events we were preparing and everyone in the Blood Dumpster became excited over the possibilities.
We had several ideas ranging from a QR gallery show in a truck to a nightmarish landscape meant to confuse and disorient, but the hosts of the Night Market challenged us to think outside our usual comfort zones. As gallery artists, we were used to providing experiences for a single viewer. Looking at a painting is a solo event, not requiring interaction with your neighbor or anyone else in the space. We were asked to think beyond that to come up with more inclusive ideas. So we eventually settled on building a space, a campfire site, where we invited people to sit around our fake fire and share stories with us or read from a book we provided.
Pooling our resources together, we visited places as nearby as MacCarren Park and as far away as New Rochelle to gather fallen pine branches to fill the back of our truck. Thanks to Local Project in Long Island City, we were sponsored to go on a spree through Materials for the Arts in Queens for fabric, paint, stones, and other tidbits. We tore up fabric to make hunting blinds to line the walls and help us secure the 7′ tall branches to it, attached coloured gels to 7 different flashlights that we hid in a “campfire” of stones and logs, hung battery powered LED lights from the ceiling to mimic stars and the moon and covered the ground in thatch rugs, twigs and dirt. A few hay bales, rolled up sleeping bags, stumps and logs made up our seating area.
Everyone who entered commented first on how the truck smelled and then were amazed to find actual trees brushing against them, a rarity in the middle of a warehouse district in Brooklyn. We brought the entire suite of Scary Stories for nostalgia sake to let people read from if they couldn’t think up stories, had marshmellows, chocolate and graham crackers on hand as treats and found ourselves packed and huddled together for most of the night.
By 2am we kicked everyone out, rolled down the gate and drove off into the night, all of us smelling faintly of pine.