There were no skewed expectations here. Headscapes was an art installation representing what goes on in the minds of artists. I knew it was going to be insane.
So when I first arrived and saw glass doors leading to a normal-looking exhibit space, I was surprised. The doors were locked. Disappointed at having come to Long Island City specifically for this show, I walked a few more feet and noticed there was another door. I went in that one. Then I pushed past the curtain and entered a dark warehouse full of craziness.
Much like at the other free Queens art installation I attended recently, I was a little scared. What would be amusing and exhilarating and fun discovering with a companion easily approaches the creepy territory when you’re by yourself and not at all certain that, due to the abandoned nature of the neighborhood, were something unwholesome actually to happen in that space, you could run outside and immediately find someone to help you.
But I didn’t let that stop my exploration. I poked into dark corners while holding my breath. I stepped up a staircase without knowing if it could hold my weight. I climbed on a rope ladder just to see some plants. I delved into the deep recesses of the artist’s mind, and it was overwhelming in the way foreign words are: you know they make sense to someone but no matter how desperately you try to find meaning in them, they remain a jumble of shapes.
And then, after I emerged back into the crisp daylight and started to walk away, I noticed the adjoining glass windowed gallery was now open. So I went in. It was a completely normal (for an art gallery) exhibit put on in conjunction with the insanity next door.
Which turns out to be a rather pertinent metaphor for my life. For some reason, it seems I always discover the darkness, the strangeness, the confusion first. I explore the messed up elements and come away feeling scattered, only to later discover there’s a perfectly normal path I skipped over. But here’s the problem with being instinctively attracted to the madness: once you’ve been to the dark, the brightly lit scene next door no longer holds the same allure. Not only do you have less interest in being a part of it, but you couldn’t stay even if you wanted to. You’re stuck now in the weirdness and while it scares you, you also know, deep down, that’s where you belong.