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Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe’s “What’s the Alternative?”

The Ace Hotel x Inherent Vice Art Show “What’s the Alternative?” opened last Tuesday in the Liberty Hall of the Ace Hotel New York and closed yesterday. It was an experience not to be missed. Psychic Ills performed a 30 minute cover of Cans’ song Vitamin C (which is how Inherent Vice begins) for those enjoying Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe’s enveloping experience installation. Drinks were served at the packed pop-up bar to guests like Mia Moretti, Arden Wohl, Cleo Wade, Rose McGowan and Caitlin Moe.

Based off of Thomas Pynchon’s book Inherent Vice (2009) and the recently released film directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, Freeman and Lowe selectively hand-picked magazines, collages, crystals, film segments, mannequins, books, lighting installations and the likes to replicate the feeling that your are filled with after the film fades away.

Photo by Max Serota

“This installation was composed of a series of hybridized sculptures—a pizza dude/ lucky cat made of black rice, a cactus crystal hybrid, framed collages of cut up book covers, an air brushed porno t-shirt on a mannequin, book shelves with fictional books and products, and a ceramic birthday cake with an air brush replication of a fake product,” said Lowe. And yes, as you can imagine it was an eye-full.

Euphoric sounds filled the room while the objects were bathed in a subtle light show one by one; spotlights slowly highlighted each piece and its prominence while then fading away and moving on to bring attention to another piece thereafter.

Cactus Crystal Hybrid
Photo by Max Serota

The diverse duo continued their practice of creating spatial, emotional experiences by suggesting visitors travel through a sequence of rooms occupying the large common spaces throughout Liberty Hall. Their ongoing creative choice (and reoccurring installation theme) to challenge mainstream media suggests visitors to broaden their relationships, languages, and minds beyond rules, culture, tradition and what is respectfully known to modern-day society.

Freeman and Lowe expanded on this by displaying a vintage collection of magazines and posters, most by Artichoke Underground (AU)—a publication that stuck around for 14 years and was dedicated to pushing traditional thinking and ultimately, being. AU’s DIY publishing, media pranks, and a provoking “push-the-envelope” mindset met Freeman and Lowe’s aspiration to do the same in their installations.

Artichoke Underground Magazines
Photo by Max Serota

“Both Paul Thomas Anderson and Thomas Pynchon have been huge influences on us and how we weave together different narratives and spin off into uncanny tangents which are usually served up with a heavy dose of paranoia where fact and fiction are often quite blurry,” said Lowe. “All of this is part of an ongoing narrative universe that we pulled from because of their loose associative properties we felt had an affinity with the film/book. We didn’t really seek to replicate or directly reference anything in particular. As they say in the movies, any resemblance is purely coincidental.”

 

Photo by Max Serota

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Kelly Wearstler

THE WINTER EXPERIENCE ISSUE
2023

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