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A Cinematic Installation Lets Visitors Choose Their Own Nightmare #ArtTuesday

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Walking into Grand Ole Opera, created by the artists Brent Stewart and Willie Stewart (no relation), feels like entering the scattered debris of adolescent nightmares. Currently on view at Pioneer Works in Red Hook, the installation takes up almost the entire ground floor of the former iron factory, consisting of two large trailer-homes, a functional bar, a truck, and a stage that will periodically host concerts. How all these different pieces connect is not immediately clear. The viewer is left with empty spaces and a series of clues, like stumbling into an abandoned movie set.

The spaces Stewart and Stewart created for Grand Ole Opera are not meant to portray a form of realism. Instead, they are highly specific and strange. The first part of the installation you encounter is a partially-built room — freshly vacuumed carpet, vanity mirror, turntable — not unlike the type of space you would see in a typical suburban home. What sets it off-kilter is that it is cast in a menacing and unnatural red light. Something has happened here, it seems, but what exactly is not clear. Then you turn around and notice the taxidermy deer sitting on the ground not far away, watching the room as well.

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