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We took a trip across the LA river and down the rabbit hole with the Nest and OWSLA crew to visit the 150,000 square foot, immersive, multi-media art installation that is the 14th Factory. Conceived by British Hong Kong-based artist Simon Birch and executed along with 14 other collaborators, the 14th Factory is a 14 room installation that follows the hero’s journey with a distinctly East meets West theme that reflects Simon’s own experience as Brit living in Hong Kong after it was returned to the Chinese. Simon compares being born on Earth to the story of Alice falling through the rabbit hole into Wonderland, the first room of the exhibit is a long black hallway which takes you through a portal that looks like a human eye and is comprised of bodies that belong to each of his collaborators dancing in synchronized movements. From there, you crash-land in a new world but inside the wreckage we find this strange room.

It’s actually an exact replica from the ending scenes of Stanley Kubrick’s iconic 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, which Simon wanted to re-create exactly but wasn’t certain he could because Kubrick had all his personal set design sketches and notes destroyed. Fortunately his collaborator for that particular room had an “Uncle Tony” who was Kubrick’s original set designer. He made a call, got his hands on the original sketch, and designed Birch’s rendition to a tee. That’s just one of a million little quirky, synchronistic details waiting to be uncovered inside the 14th Factory. From there walk outside and into Earth where our best friends are waiting for us, they planted nearly half an acre of grass inside the warehouse where natural light pours in.

From there you can hang around in the garden or heed the call to adventure like every hero and choose to go into battle. The battle sequence consists of a massive dark room where several movie-theater-size screens play a slow-motion sequence of 300 Bejing factory workers beating the living shit out of each other. From there the hero must shed his material wealth to achieve victory, just as Simon liquidated everything he owned to be able to fund an art show of such a massive scale. His last asset was a vintage Ferrari which he crashed and filmed with the help of a Hong Kong-based production team, after watching it crash in an unbelievably satisfying sequence, pieces of it are displayed in a long white room. We won’t give the rest away but suffice to say it’s absolutely worth seeing for yourself. And, due to the tragic warehouse fire in Oakland late last year, the city of Los Angeles has issued a moratorium on permits for long term special events and despite the fact that 14th Factory has a glowing recommendation from the fire marshal, they can’t get the permit they need to continue operating without our support. Sign the petition to save 14th factory here.

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