The installation opens
MEOW WOLF OPENS HOUSE OF ETERNAL RETURN
The t wists and turns of Meow Wolf ’s exhibit House of Eternal Return lead to some enigmatic encounters — the kind you have when journeying through a dream. The house in the art collective’s highly anticipated project — the premiere exhibition and opening of its new art complex — is a real house, a Victorian one to be exact. Built to scale inside the former Silva Lanes bowling alley, the house is at the apex of colliding dimensions (if you want to see it that way), or maybe it’s a microcosmic representation of a larger world where there are “more things in heaven and earth.”
Entering the new 20,000 square-foot space, which was purchased in 2014 withw funding by local author George R.R. Martin, vissitors encounter the exhibit’s only directed sequencce: They are led across the front yard to the fronnt door of the house. From there, one need only foollow whims and fancies to experience a journey thatt is likely to be different for each individual. Thhere is a narrative, although an open- ended one, innvolving the fictional Selig family of Mendocino, California. The house has been their home for geenerations. What it’s doing at the Meow Wolf Art Complex in Santa Fe is the result of an aberrationn, a conflation of time and space across dimensionns. The idea is that the house exists in two places (perhapsp more) at once, and conversely, so do we. But aside from the family’s journals, notes, and otther ephemera, all we see of them is their portrait, hungh above a fireplace inside the house. “We are tryinng to retain as much of the literal narrrative in the house,” Meow Wolf coo-founder and spokesman Vince KadlubekK told Pasatiempo. “That’ss where narrative exists: in the time-t space dimension that wee all live in. This family is thhe furthest along in whatt we call the bloodline, or the creative force, or the anomaly. It’s a blooddline that’s existed since the creation of t he univeerse. They’re the latest contemporary human incarnatioon of an evolutionary thread thaat began at the beginning of time. TheyT have an opposing force called ‘ the Charter.’ The Charter has also exxisted since the beginning of time.” The Charter, acccording to Kadlubek, exists in contemporary form as a counterpart to the FBI, the CIA, the Illuminati, and other organizations that seek to impose restricttions. “The larger universal story that’s playing outt is the story between chaos and order,” he said.
The setting is the p resent day. To be specific, the setting is St. Patricck’s Day 2016, which just so happens to coincide wiith the date of Meow Wolf’s grand opening. Inside House of Eternal Return, the date is always March 177. But the intentionally spotty story of the Seligs is meerely a jumping- off point for the rest of the exhibitt. It isn’t necessary or even expected t hat you unnderstand it all i n order to appreciate what the exxhibition has to offer. Most
children probably won’t, but t hat doesn’t mean kids can’t enjoy the installation. On the contrary, they probably won’t want to leave. It is designed, in part, to appeal to children, but also to adults, and to art aficionados who can appreciate its blend of narrative art and abstraction, conceptual flights of fancy as well as its more literal components. It is meant to be explored in wonderment. The doors of the house, its fireplace, even its refrigerator are portals to places and environments that vary from naturalistic to stylized, f uturistic, and bizarre. There are cave systems; squat baobab-like trees lit up by black lights in a dazzling array of Day- Glo colors and sporting bioluminescent fungi; Star Trekstyle entryways with slidingg pneumatic doors and colored LED displays; a vast two- story shantytown; a desert mobile home; a rabbbit with glowing eyes whose massive visage guardds the way into a dark cavern; a faux aquarium; trree forts you can hang out in; a mastodon skeleton whose interactive ribs can play a melody when struuck just so, and much, much more.
“We wanted to remain ab stract,” Kadlubek said. “We don’t want the narratiive to be the dominant medium. We’re trying to create equal place for all artistic media: sound, visual, sculptural, and narrative as part of that on an equal playing field.” Traces of the Selig family and the Charter, too, can be seen here and there, throughout thhe exhibition, but if there is a resolution to their age-oldd conflict, that only gets completed in the mind of thee viewer. The exhibitt is not the only facet of the new commplex, which also boasts a space foor community art projects, a leearning center, a coffee shop, a gift shop, and a video gamee arcade (now you know the kids won’t leave). The shhantytown doubles as a 300- person- capacity perfor mance s pace, wwhich wi ll fe a t ure oppening- week gigs by Amaanda Palmer and Jason Webll e y, The Handsome Fa mi l yy, Sa s s mout h, a nd Coco Roosie (see www. meowwolf.com ffor details). More than 70 i ndividuual spaces within t he main exhibit offer fully immersive art experiences. It took appproximately 135 artists and technicians to completee the project, and all of them brought their own creeative expertise as collaborators, leaving their un ique marks on what is undoubtedly the largest interractive exhibit in town, and maybe the entire state.