What just happened? Joseph Campbell’s “collective unconscious” meets the collective creativity of Portland’s Milepost 5 artistic community in this art/theater/dance installation, presented by HumanBeingCurious Productions. Attendees find themselves greeted with a papier-mache mask that smells vaguely of paste and whisked into a swirly-whirly universe of philosophical quandaries. Only this trip into the subconscious is decorated with cardboard cutouts of waves, whitewashed picture frames and bed sheets with stenciled Sharpie drawings. Masked figures dancing and wailing around the foyer should have clued us in to impending weirdness.
Illuminate can only be described as an experience. There are artistic components, like the question room where a disembodied, GPS-like voice answers quandaries with vague musings. There are elements of dance, with baffled viewers ushered into a chapel space for a repetitive performance. And there is more traditional theater as well: a shadow puppet show, tales told around a makeshift campfire and a bar scene involving too many philosophical monologues.
Like reading Campbell in high-school philosophy, you emerge feeling that someone removed your brain and shook it. Despite an obviously tiny budget, Illuminate’s cast displays talent that outshines the humble set. Still, the mind can handle only so much unconscious wandering before being distracted by an itchy face mask (was this sanitized?).
Not for the faint-hearted, or for anyone preferring comfort or sanity, Illuminate literally winds attendees through a labyrinth before spitting them back into the night, spatially—and psychologically—disoriented.
SEE IT: The Chapel at Milepost 5, 850 NE 81st Ave., 800-494-8497. 10 pm Sunday, Feb. 3. $10-$15.