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Over at Bow Market, there’s an art installation that wants to crawl inside your brain in a few different ways.
Push your way through the doors of a tiny 8-by-17-foot room at the Somerville space, and you’ll find a portal to Rebecca Kopycinski’s own dystopian “Reaganverse,” with an experience called the ThotBot Implantation Center at its core.
The January installation at Bow Market introduces Bow’s new Get Artists Paid (GAP) Space Residency, a program that seeks to integrate art into the Somerville marketplace, while also offering a way for creators from the area to see a financial return for their work.
Kopycinski’s project in particular spans the entire month of January, and expands upon a storyworld that she’s been creating for a while now, following her 2019 play Reagan Esther Myer. While the ThotBot Implantation Center experience adds to the same narrative, there’s also an album and digital experience online to explore at home. Limited to 12 people per performance, the ticketed event is a living, glitching experiment in transmedia storytelling.
The evening spans multiple hours, presenting time for guests to read and write, investigate the installation space, and watch an “audio/visual concert” of the Reagan Esther Myer soundtrack. There’s also a hour intermission built into the event specifically for guests to eat, drink, and shop at Bow Market. Going into the installation, however, attendees don’t need to be familiar with any of Kopycinski’s prior work to enjoy the experience.
“All the stories revolve around one central protagonist, Reagan Esther Myer. In June , I mounted four performances of a multimedia play named for the titular character,” Kopycinski says. “For those who saw it, this event will take you a little deeper into the Reaganverse. If you didn’t see it, fear not. This is actually designed to be the very first experience one would have with this world. While the two experiences complement one another, they also stand alone.”
The ThotBot Implantation Center originally started as a marketing tool for promoting Reagan Esther Myer, existing only online as a way for Bostonians to learn more about the world of the play. Via thotbot.me, fans and curious minds could check the hypothetical status of their own ThotBot — that is, “a government mandated brain implant that algorithmically applies points to one’s thoughts.”
Not one to limit her art’s footprint, Kopycinski then started making the blueprint for an actual brick-and-mortar ThotBot Implantation Center. Soon after learning of the GAP Space Residency through Ali Horeanopoulos, an artist who owns Bow Market shop 9000 Things, Kopycinski linked up with Zachary Baum, co-owner of the Somerville marketplace.
“He was pretty enthusiastic; it didn’t take much convincing,” Kopycinski notes to Vanyaland. “I believe I am the first artist in the space (I sort of swooped in before they officially launched the program), but there are others coming after me.”
“For artists to afford to stay in our community, they need more opportunities to make money from their art,” adds Baum. “We’re excited to welcome Rebecca into the Bow Market family this January. Her vision for the space is not only intriguing, but wildly unique. This sort of experimentation is exactly what we hoped would find a home in the GAP space. This installation will help inform how we develop a sustainable arts program that thrives for years to come.”
Due to the space constraints of the room Kopycinski was offered for the installation, a dozen guests is the capacity for each show; as a result, all 19 shows have already sold out, but Kopycinski is searching for a way to open another ThotBot Implantation Center elsewhere later in the year.
“I wanted to pair the interactive experience with an audio/visual concert to make it feel like a complete evening,” she explains. “To be sure everyone had a chance to do all the things in the immersive waiting room environment and then also fit into the space for the concert, I had to make it a ticketed event with a capacity of twelve. I don’t think I would have capped the audience at 12 if I wasn’t forced to by space constraints, but I’m glad it turned out this way. The intimate nature of the event has been a truly special experience.”
While all 19 events have sold out, interested folks can join the wait list at firstname.lastname@example.org.