“I heard there’s a shaman,” a man says as I wait to get into the new “Spektrum” exhibit at lille æske. “I don’t think I’ll be able to not say anything the whole time.” Meanwhile, his friend sniffs and puts his ear to a wooden stump before plopping down on it, giggling. Things are getting weird in Boulder Creek, and the main event hasn’t even started.
I’m sitting with five others around a fire, waiting to be called to enter lille æske’s new “Spektrum” installation. Everyone receives a numbered card, indicating what order they will be called in, and enters individually. Illuminated by a reddish hue, the exhibit starts with a warm and welcoming beginning, but the rabbit hole behind the door is enough to make anyone curious—or in my case, slightly anxious.
Upon entry, I’m fairly sure I’m going to be murdered by a masked man wearing a white apron. I’m not supposed to talk, but out of awkwardness I mumble a hello to the silent masked man and sit down. Music that sounds like it’s out of the ’50s quietly plays amid a vibrant orange glow in the retro kitchen. Twine is spiderwebbed around the ceiling and there’s nowhere to go but to a rickety kitchen table. My masked friend and I sit silently together, and with clammy hands I open a letter sitting in front of me and try not to look him in the eyes.
It reads: “Light of the World, isn’t it funny the way some things seem to choose you as much as you choose them? For example, why are you here right now? Do you even know, yourself? (Do you even know yourself?) Light of the World. There are so many things I want to tell you and of course there is no time. There is never any time.”
The masked man stands up and walks over to the kitchen counter, and I know I am going to die. But instead I’m led to the next room—five of which have somehow been fit into the tiny venue, each based on a different hue in the color spectrum (hence the name). Only 12 people are allowed in each night, given the individuality and personalization of it all, and the artist changes every weekend. There are several interesting characters along the way, some real and some fictional, all of them unique. It’s a journey through color and light, but also a journey into consciousness and awareness.
Leading me from room to room are silent masked hosts, who give a ghostly gesture between the sheeted rooms. The uneasiness of it all turns to comfort by the third room, where Los Angeles-based artist Black Mare waits to put on a show just for me. It’s delightfully gothic and magical—who knew I’d find solace in a masked woman wearing a kimono? She taps a large horn on her staff, hums and gives me a red rose wrapped in parchment before sending me on my merry way. I’m so glad that I’m not on drugs.
A truly sensory experience, “Spektrum” isn’t for the faint of heart, but rest assured it’s worth every second for those who have an open and curious mind. The rooms build on each other, and just when it seems like things couldn’t get any stranger, the fog machine, violet lights and canopied four-poster bed appear. From the rooms to the performances and art pieces, everything is intentional in this small space, and it’s a true wonder in itself.
Spektrum challenges what art looks and feels like. It’s awkward, cohesive and transformative at the same time, a range of emotion and otherworldly experiences all tucked away in a little wooden box in the woods.
“Spektrum” runs Thursday-Sundays through June 30. lilleaeske.com. $32.