Lyeberry is a series of informal engagements that focus on the sharing of objects, events, experiences and ideas.
The Three Witches
Luckyday and The Three Witches (16:33 min. HD video)
written and directed by Lyeberry
cast, in order of appearance:
Gracie De Vito
“Pillars of God” hymn written by Akina Cox
“Quantum Healing Technology is Upon Us” written by Joseph Imhauser
costumes by Akina Cox
recordings of Sun Myung Moon courtesy of Andrew Cox
Lyeberry is pleased to present luckyday, a new film set at Camp Mozumdar, a utopian experiment started in 1919. A.K. Mozumdar’s mixture of Hindu and Christian influences dictates the architectural choices and layout of the grounds. Over its 80 year existence these buildings suffered extreme weather conditions, fires, earthquakes, etc… as well as vandalism and demolition. Currently run by followers of the Korean cult leader Sun Myung Moon, Camp Mozumdar now operates as an occasional retreat and workshop site. Luckyday, Lyeberry’s first film, explores the ways religious communities try to create utopias throughout Southern California. Delving into their rituals promising attainment and the construction of narratives to consolidate authority within the group, Luckyday is a montage of sequences examining how these cults and communities thrive and proliferate in times when narratives manufactured by governments are distrusted. The new-found ‘awareness’ or reinforced doubt in these narratives often leads to an exploration of sensorial faith, where utopian ideals become retold and re-experienced in the body.
In 1903, A.K. Mozumdar, a Hindu teacher and lecturer, had a vision that told him to leave his home country of India, and move to the United States. Arriving in Spokane, WA on June 30th 1913, Mozumdar became the first East Indian to earn US citizenship. There, he founded the Society of Christian Yoga and the New Thought movement, publishing several books about metaphysical practices and the correlations between Eastern and Western religions. Directed by the same vision to buy land in Arrowhead, California, Mozumdar created a community aimed at uniting the world’s religions. Shortly after his death, the Unification Church bought the property. Since then, members of the church have used the space to teach new converts about Sun Myung Moon, whom they believe to be the Second Coming of Christ.
Camp Mozumdar provides a backdrop for lyeberry’s investigation of the religious experience. Reenactment of leftover memories provides a structure for unpacking the effects of competing narratives as they confront and alter society. Through collective ceremonies of purification and reflection, luckyday explores Camp Mozumdar’s provenance of multiple collusions of faith existing on a site that has been the location of numerous utopian quests.
Rituals aim to unite the physical body with extrasensory awareness, in hopes that the participant will both gain knowledge and be imprinted by it’s release. When multiple people practice these gestures, the movements build to perform a common language, consolidating the group around an oracle. In communal action, these utopic practices often engender considerable anxiety, as the authority wielded by the central prophet/ess causes a displacement of confidence within each member. Luckyday traces a path to this displacement by repeating certain actions, such as ceremonial bathing, and the ingestion of knowledge through the sun and animal protein. Meant to accentuate a member’s incompleteness, these commands performed en masse draw the participants together, merging their identities with the group.
While this misuse of control is perhaps easier to acknowledge in insular factions, lyeberry is interested in how these models of power take cues from the general public. In luckyday, this infatuation with authority is played out by the gifted sibyl Meryl Streep. She wields an oeuvre of women in command of their fields, who exert not only political power, but influence decisions made in our society at every level. Through monologues of her roles as Margaret Thatcher, Julia Child, and Anna Wintour, these pioneering women channeled through Streep’s embodiment alludes to the women’s unquestioned status, their level of influence rivaling religious leaders such as Sun Myung Moon, and secular seers such as Oprah, or Streep herself.
Luckyday examines the frictions generated as multiple fictions chafe and collide through the blending of Meryl Streep’s portrayal of Margaret Thatcher with archival recordings of Sun Myung Moon and his chief aide and translator, Bo Hi Pak, as they reveal their dismay with Reagan’s liberalism, and their support for Oliver North and Nicaraguan guerilla fighters. With the Moon family’s continued ownership of the Washington Times, Rush Limbaugh’s newspaper of choice, these remarks can be seen as a prescient warning of the continued involvement of various agendas within public discourse. Luckyday explores the myriad ways that these utopic communities affect our experiences through fabrication of myths and the magnetic persona of oracles. From physical gestures that attempt to alter an individual’s relationship with their body, to power dynamics within manipulation and desire, luckyday posits that even national debates and public policy can be impacted and regurgitated by splinter groups.