Attending Helicon’s Synesthesia Exhibit was definitely an experience. It was dark, cold, and stormy when my friend and I arrived outside 504 Catherine, which on its own appeared to simply be a crowded house. Then, suddenly, some unnerving music began to play, consisting of what sounded like wailing and sound static. It was hardly an enticing welcome, but we eventually decided to head inside.
There were fairy lights on the walls and the band was huddled on the ground in the corner of the main room. There was some art hung at eye level, including some installations that I enjoyed featuring bright colors that were nowhere to be found in the rest of the house.
We progressed upstairs, where we encountered an invitation to create some hands-on, spontaneous art by a window:
This was a part of the exhibit that I enjoyed. It claimed in the event description that this exhibit would be a safe space to create and appreciate art. The invitation to create something (or something more, in the case of the featured artists) was inspiring and made me feel like a part of the arts community.
Upstairs, however, was the opposite. We were guided into a small room draped with blankets and scattered with pillows. We sat down in front of a makeshift movie screen and watched what turned out to be one of the most unnerving films I’ve ever tried to see. The camera lingered on seemingly unimportant objects, such as an outlet plug on the wall and the (infuriatingly incomplete) shaving of a man’s head. We managed to escape once the narrator began discussing her wish to have her head stuck in a wood-chipper.
After that movie, we decided to skip the film with trigger warnings (“claustrophobia” & “bodily noises” among others) posted outside on the door. We headed down to the basement, which, after taking in the previous levels of the house, sounded rather ominous. To my surprise, however, the basement ended up being my favorite location.
This was our view when we had descended the (albeit creaky) stairs. The sheets and fairly lights gave the space a, for lack of a better term, very artsy personality. The lighting framed the artwork very well, casting a golden hue on everything. Despite this, the art here was definitely of a darker sort, featuring, for example, a “Self Portrait” sculpture by Jay Moskowitz.
A closer look at this sculpture, especially when you bent down to be at eye level with it, revealed the talent present in this installation. When you moved to look at the other side of the portrait, however…
…you were faced with something else entirely.
Moving into another room, we noticed a piece by Natalie Grove. “Sit in Me” was typed out on the label, so we obliged.
Turning to our right, there was yet another film playing. The film was exceptional at displaying continuous motion, every few frames featuring the cast in different or no clothing. Despite these changes, there was never any pause. The room itself was very thought-provoking as well, with wine and milk lined up in front of clothes in a pile on the ground.
My favorite piece of artwork at the exhibit was called “Suspended Thought” by Lorenzo Lorenzetti. I very much enjoyed the literal title and the suspensions themselves. It revealed, to me, how thoughts can manifest into something physical and indeed paralyze one’s mind. It was a very geometric sculpture that reminded me of certain renaissance sculptures I’ve encountered at art museums around the world.
I heard about this exhibit because my photographs were also displayed. Upon looking at all the other art present in the house, my friends joked that my prints were there to serve as a break from all other the more heavy, “tortured artist” installations. My only qualm with being featured is that the labels below all three photos were incorrect, but the working theory is that it was an intentional mishap to further provoke the disorganized, artistic mind.