Each Hallowe’en, radical evangelical groups all over the USA and Canada build hell houses. Beginning in the 1970s, these performer-animated installations showcased a gruesome retribution for the sins of fornication, abortion, suicide, occultism, and same-sex relationships. This Hallowe’en, Toronto artist Allyson Mitchell, assistant professor in the School of Women’s Studies in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, reclaims this hellish scenario with her crowd-sourced, lesbian-feminist, queer-fear-fighting celebration Kill Joy’s Kastle: A Lesbian Feminist Haunted House located at 303 Lansdowne Ave (at Dundas), Toronto.
Wrapping this American Gothic Hell House tradition with yard upon illustrated, elaborately decorated yard of spirited craft aesthetic, Mitchell mobilizes her “deep lez” commitment to radical queer world-making potential. Through it, she conjures new kinds of representations of feminist sexuality and queer concepts of community and activism.
The entrance to Kill Joy’s Kastle
Rug-hooked, crocheted and paper maché constructions are womb-like wonders for visitations of the undead lesbian community, who are hell bent on remaining nightmarish non-assimilated. Casting the spells of freaky feminist skill-sharing and paranormal consciousness raising together with ghouls, bio-engineered monsters, indoctrinators, and avengers, this hell house is designed to pervert, not convert.
Oct. 16 marks the grand opening of Kill Joy’s Kastle: A Lesbian Feminist Haunted House. Visitors can nosh on beaver tails and fish tacos while they experience more than 25 live performances, rock bands, video projections and much more fun too frightening to reveal, just yet.
Take a guided tour through the glorious and grisly detritus of Kill Joy’s Kastle: A Lesbian Feminist Haunted House from Oct. 17 to 30, as this haunted house becomes an immersive art installation. Kill Joy’s Kastle will be open each day from 4 to 8pm (or by appointment) and groups are welcome, especially the unruly kind. This ground-up, not-to-be-missed haunted house, which is nailed, knitted and glued by a coven of dedicated feminists over the course of the past three months, provides a rare glimpse into Mitchell’s “craftivist” world-view.
Concept drawing by Allyson Mitchell
To book viewing appointments or class tours, contact Emelie Chhangur, assistant director/curator of the Art Gallery of York University, at email@example.com or Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mitchell’s Lesbian Hell House is brought to the community by the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU), a university-affiliated, contemporary art gallery supported by York University, The Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council, and its membership.