An immersive political house of horrors arrives in Brooklyn.
With immersive theater experiences catching on around the United States and beyond, a new installation shows the medium’s potential to move from escapism into social commentary. In Brooklyn, Doomocracy is a political “house of horrors” that combines performance art, immersive theater, and political satire—just in time for the election season.
Launched in October, Doomocracy takes the form of an immersive haunted house experience but features dark political satire instead of classic Halloween horrors. Doomocracy is produced by nonprofit arts organization Creative Time and features art from Mexico City-born artist Pedro Reyes. Tickets are sold out for the exhibit’s run, which ends in November.
“In a political period as dizzying, and occasionally terrifying, as this year, Creative Time is once again following an artist’s singular vision to provide much-needed perspective and, well, catharsis,” said Nato Thompson, Creative Time’s artistic director, in a statement. “With Doomocracy, Reyes touches upon the haunted house in each of us, and his playful approach allows confrontation with the panoply of apocalyptic scenarios we collectively imagine.”
Although staged to coincide with the US election, Doomocracy touches on political issues that resonate far beyond the cycle. In one room, three women staging a Tupperware-style sales party are actually selling guns, tapping a future of lax gun control run amok. A funeral parlor showcases creepy child-sized coffins, touching on the dangers of processed foods. Climate change makes an appearance in a futuristic US National Park, where the only way to experience nature is through VR.
Though the issues may seem intangible, the fears surrounding them are very real. The run-up to the political election has been marked by an increase of fear and distrust among both parties: A June Pew survey found that more than half of Democrats (55%) said the Republican Party made them feel “afraid,” while 49% of Republicans said the same about Democrats.
The immersive element of the experience leads to some of the most effective political commentary. Guests are harassed by a dystopian police force on their way in to the exhibit, a visceral reenactment of tactics that groups like Black Lives Matter stand in opposition to.
“I like to think we’re paying homage to just the sheer terror that is these issues,” Thompson told the Daily Beast. “Tell me a polite way to deal with climate change…Satire has a long tradition of making light of the things that are freaking everyone out. One of the classic definitions of art itself is to find some way for us to come to terms with the things that are troubling us.”
As social media and live-streaming video inspire new digital activist communities, shifting demographics and economic instability apply pressure to already-politicized consumers, turning up the heat on the political conversation. Doomocracy is an innovative way to tap into the election cycle, acknowledging the fears of the average citizen while using art to push the conversation forward.
Check back for our trend report on the intersection between brands and politics, coming next week.