You shouldn’t give kids drugs. But if you do, you should film it. That’s what Haroon Mirza did. He arranged a kids’ mushroom-tea ceremony (not the psychedelic kind, but dizziness-inducing fly agaric), complete with gongs, singing bowls and wafts of smoke. The results are shown here accompanied by self-playing bongos and throbs of synthesiser drones, emitting steady tones at 111khz.
The frequency is meant to heal, the mushroom tea is meant to collapse time. The installation builds and builds in intensity, gets louder and louder, the bongos start to play themselves, the drone pulsates, all reaching a fever pitch of sound and light, a hippy drum circle come to life. You don’t see a whole lot of tripping kids, but that’s not the point. It’s about the moment, the transcendence.
Next door you find more deep throbs, a solar panel tied to a rock and some lasers. Upstairs, three ant colonies are powered by more speakers and solar panels, little micro-universes of critters going about their lives in their non-hierarchical societies.
You could see all this as art about alternate ways of living, about psychoactive drugs, ant societies, and healing frequencies in a late capitalist world where those things genuinely feel like an escape. Though obviously Mirza is exploring these systems of belief, I’m not sure the engagement with those ideas is that deep or that serious here. Does Mirza really want us to live like ants? Does he really think frequencies can heal? Or – more likely – is he just hopeful, optimistic that there’s another way, that those things might just work and could just maybe offer us a way out of our banal lives.