Smokey Bear is waving a chainsaw, but it’s his screaming, genetically modified friend that causes you to jump backwards. The humanoid animal is scantily clad and gliding straight at you on a hoverboard. Welcome to the national park of the future—where you are the prey, but the predators aren’t out to eat you. They’ve come to harvest your organs.
This apocalyptic park is just one of more than a dozen scenarios brought to life in Doomocracy, a house of horrors where politics and nightmares collide. Our news feeds bring terrifying stories to our doorstep daily, but we’re usually just a click way from relative safety. The satirical haunted house, located at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, brings you right into the line of fire, albeit with fake guns, 32 costumed actors, and a maze of creative staging in a sprawling former military complex.
So, what keeps you up at night? Poisonous air? Drone strikes? An armed and racist neighborhood watch? Your child eating herself into a sugary grave? The spawn of superbugs? The specter of climate change? Whatever your current fear, Mexican artist Pedro Reyes and public art organization Creative Time put it on morbid theatrical display and encourage you to play along.
Reyes, who sees haunted houses as a kind of folk art, is known for creating ways for audiences to immerse themselves in his work—whether it’s melting down 1,500 guns and turning them into shovels with which children plant trees, as he did in Palos por pistoles, or asking New Yorkers to walk through a creepy hallway brimming with Styrofoam and gurgling pools of plastic bags.
And what timing for a political freak show. Not only will Doomocracy run nearly until Election Day, but Nato Thompson, artistic director for Creative Time, says the project makes “perverse sense in 2016,” the 100th anniversary of Dadaism. The movement emerged during World War I when artists began using many media to critique the social ills they believed led to the war’s unprecedented human devastation. “I think that’s the kind of moment we’re in,” Thompson told The New York Times. “It seems like a joke, but the joke is really not funny at all.”
Doomocracy will run every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night through November 6. Creative Time says reservations are currently booked full, though it may make room for more. But hey, if you’re unable to see this horror show, just take a long, hard look around. Boo!
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