Fans of 2016 pop-culture phenomenon Strangers Things can enter The Upside Down this month, no flotation tank necessary.
More than 50 local and international artists, illustrators and craftspeople will exhibit works inspired by the Netflix series at a new show presented by Espionage Gallery and Splash Adelaide.
Curator and artist Joshua Smith was inspired after binge-watching the show over two nights. “After I finished the series I woke up at 5am and thought, ‘I need to make this an exhibition’,” he says.
“[The show] lends itself so well to fan art, and when I started doing research on artists who have been inspired by it I realised this is something that resonates with a lot of people. There are a lot of [visual] elements of the show that are pure gold.”
The immersive exhibition will transform the basement level of the Darling Building into an otherworldly setting. “I wanted it to be an experience and the first port of call was to find an appropriate venue,” Smith says.
“Initially I came across an old, abandoned laboratory in the city, in the WOTSO space, but it just went on the market through Renew Adelaide, so everybody wanted it. But I recently went to a SALA exhibition in the Darling Building and it was all dingy and haunted-house-esque, and I thought, ‘This is perfect’.
“Because it’s an old building it has a light shaft running through it, with natural sunlight, which extends right to the basement.”
The space will be dressed with Christmas lights like those in the Byers family’s home in the show. It will also feature a full-size replica of the makeshift fort, Castle Byers, which character Will Byers finds refuge in. “I’m taking a lot of inspiration to essentially create set dressing for the exhibition,” Smith says. “For people entering the exhibition you’ll have to pass some bio-hazard curtains, like in the Hawkins Laboratory. Once you’re in the exhibition you’re pretty much transported to The Upside Down.”
The pop-up show is Smith’s first since January 2015 when he co-presented Alice in Wonderland tribute Follow the White Rabbit with Splash Adelaide. He has since been keeping busy with his own series of miniatures replicas, which he has exhibited in London, Paris, Berlin and Melbourne.
“One thing I’ve been missing is showcasing other artists’ works and I thought this was the perfect way to get back into that,” he says. “There are so many artists creating amazing work but they don’t have a venue to showcase it in. I figured, ‘I’ve got the space, why not have a shit-tonne of artists’.”
A huge local contingent – including Fruzsi Kenez, Jack Fran, Jake Bresanello, Jake Holmes, Kat Coppock, and Broadsheet photographer Daniel Purvis – will exhibit alongside artists from the US and Canada.
The Upside Down, A Stranger Things Exhibition opens Friday, October 28 at 6pm at the Darling Building, 28 Franklin Street, Adelaide. The exhibition will run until Sunday, October 30. Entry is free.