In which we endanger our souls
A few weeks ago I got forwarded chain email from a friend, inviting me to participate in a “secret night market” in the St. Louis area, at a location to be revealed the day of the event. This sounded like a rave, but for olds, and I was immediately intrigued. I signed up to attend, and waited for notification of the event location. I was going to go alone because I shoot better when I am alone (It’s really hard to socialize AND concentrate on getting the right shots. At least for me. )
However, when the event location arrived at noon on the day of the event, I realized that I would be traveling alone at night to a deserted industrial area of the city, and I had been told to bring a flashlight because it would be dark. Now, I am not the most courageous of souls on the best of days, and this seemed to me to be purest folly. Not that I wouldn’t have done it, but I thought I’d be more comfortable with friends along. So, who do I know who’d want to come explore some abandoned wonderland where we’d probably be murdered and sold for parts?
Oh yeah, Chris and Beth.
If you’re going to go anywhere sketchy, these are the people you’d want with you. Beth is as bad-ass as they come, and both of them teach self-defense classes to our larger circle of friends, so I knew they’d keep my scaredy-cat self safe. I inquired as to their plans, and luckily they had some time free that night and thought it would be fun.
We took off for the event and we had a really good time! You can see what happened in the video below:
Some thoughts on the event that weren’t included in the video
I thought this was a very cool event, at least an extremely cool concept. However, there were some problems in execution (which is to be expected with a bare-bones-budget traveling production, no hate at all.)
The location was a little dodgy for me to feel safe going to alone. It wasn’t crime-ridden or anything, per se, it was just abandoned at night except for some homeless folks who were sleeping nearby. Also, it was pitch black dark there. I’ve seen photos from events in other cities and they found places that at least had some kind of street lights. I know that beggars of free spaces to hold un-permitted night markets cannot be choosers, but this would have been so much more fun if they could have found a local business owner with a decent parking lot or even abandoned overgrown lot to partner with.
I like the concept of converting moving vans and trucks into art installations, very pack-n-go. But for anyone with disability or limited mobility this event was all but inaccessible. The event itself was on a torn up concrete gravel parking lot, so I was in constant fear of falling in the dark. Then, to interact with most of the installations you had to climb up loading ramps into the trucks. For the young and fit and able that’s no problem, but I am notoriously unsteady on my feet, and climbing up a loading ramp with no handrail (and horrors, having to climb back down) scared me.
I can’t afford, mentally or financially, to be broken again, so I don’t do anything that might make me that way. I really enjoyed the exhibits that were set up under tents so you could just walk up to them and see, rather than having to climb in. Also, the truck format meant that very few people could actually see what the exhibition was all about – only so many people can cram their faces into the back of a truck to try to watch something happening 4-6 feet above them.
Again, I get the limitations of the format, the budget, the nature of the event, and I really commend these artists for having such a cool concept and carrying it out. No hate on what they’re doing, just identifying barriers to participation. If the event came back this way I would definitely go again and see what they were doing, and perhaps be more comfortable knowing what I was getting into. I’d love a chance to design my own pop-up experience and collaborate, maybe travelling trucks and local artists could arrange a date and throw a giant shindig. That would be amazing.
Plus, if that Prototypical Vagina Museum lady comes back with a whale vagina built into the back of a truck like she has planned I am SO THERE.
Hope you enjoyed the video and the description of the event. Very unique, glad I got invited and glad I chose to go.