MOCAD's Robolights Detroit is the perfect backdrop for a twisted holiday photo

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You can get lost at Robolights Detroit at MOCAD. - TIM JOHNSON
  • Tim Johnson
  • You can get lost at Robolights Detroit at MOCAD.

Santa Claus, Middle Eastern motifs, and dinosaurs mix shockingly well at Robolights Detroit, the massive found-object installation that Palm Springs-based artist Kenny Irwin Jr. built on the lawn of MOCAD’s Mike Kelley’s Mobile Homestead over the course of some 70 days earlier this year.

Calling to mind Tyree Guyton’s Heidelberg Project (Irwin visited Heidelberg while a student at Cranbrook Academy of Art), Robolights opened to the public on Oct. 25 and is now the perfect backdrop for a twisted holiday photo op: On a recent visit, we spotted an inflatable Santa riding a tank with a banner that says, “HO HO HO … Come and Get It!”; Santa riding a sleigh led by giant snails; a pack of dinosaurs devouring a pack of stuffed animal Mickey Mouses (Mice?); a pirate ship; lots of creepy clowns; Pikachu; and a dragon. Irwin also appears to bend the laws of physics, constructing a series of tunnels that wrap around themselves, making the Homestead’s lawn feel much larger than we remember it being, and inside the Homestead is an exhibition of some of Irwin’s mind-bending Christmas-and-sci fi-themed drawings.
We’re told Irwin will even be back in town on Noel Night on Saturday, Dec. 7 to personally drive people around the installation on a tiny, motorized train. It really is the most wonderful time of the year.

See website for hours; 4454 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-832-6622; mocadetroit.org. Admission is free, but you need to get a wristband from inside the museum to enter. On view through May 3.


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