Rustbelt Mobile Cultural Exchange Center
Board Certified Low Budget Mystic
Board Certified Low Budget Mystic
It all started five years ago, when Christopher Olszewski (also known as The Bishop Rustbelt Messiah), purchased a very unwell 1998 Cadillac DeVille. The vehicle had an expensive motor repair and was headed to the salvage yard. Christopher loves Cadillacs, is a board-certified low budget mystic and with his magical powers, brought the vehicle back from the brink of death.
Since 2016, Christopher has been producing a variety of socially engaged creative projects using the vehicle as a mobile vessel for concepts, beliefs, opinions and theories. His current creative project "The Rustbelt Mobile Exchange Center" tries to combat the years of negative public relations, cast a positive promotion of the region, rediscover the rich history and document the spirited people of the American Rustbelt.
Christopher aka The Bishop Rustbelt Messiah and his crew will perform in The Rustbelt Mobile Cultural Exchange Center from the trunk of his 1998 Cadillac Deville. It is a NASCAR/Pit stop/guerrilla style performance along 14th street in NYC. Conducting a series of quick stops in open spaces, interacting with the public and displaying the breathtaking and richly designed Alter dedicated to the wonders of the American Rustbelt.
Here’s how it going to work:
Mr. Olszewski is not one to seclude himself in his studio and has been organizing vision quests/spiritual journeys in his 1998 Cadillac Deville. Along the way, he creates site-specific, interactive installations and invites people to make their mark. Participants write their ideas / feelings / insights / emotions / statements onto his “canvases” – which are protective car covers that Mr. Olszewski then transfigured into objects resembling ceremonial animal skins.
I am a Board Certified, Low-Budget Mystic-aka-Self Appointed Mixed Race Messiah aka The Godson of Dr. Funkenstein, traveling through North America in my 1998 Cadillac DeVille. The vehicle is my avatar and exemplifies the spirit of the American Rustbelt and has a direct connection with my father and grandfather. Cadillac is a romantic symbol of American luxury, style and elegance, and the DeVille is one the last remaining vehicles assembled in Detroit (the Motor City), Michigan.
The Mobile Spiritual Renewal Center is self-contained project carried inside the vehicle. The project acts as a soft monument or a mobile message board to connect with the local populations I will encounter throughout my journey. In recent collaborative projects, I have constructed a Caution Tape Medicine Wheel around the DeVille where people can write messages on strips of colorful fabric. After a few hours, the “Caution Tape” is covered with favorable messages and the Medicine Wheel transforms from a relatively negative message (“caution”) to a positive bulletin board. When the journey is complete, the vinyl car cover(s) and caution tape will serve as the foundation for my visual exploration and used in professional gallery/museum exhibitions.
I encourage each individual with whom I come into contact to decorate, contemplate, make marks, draw, write and/or simply spend time with the project. At the beginning of the trek, the project is a blank canvas, and each mark, sticker, dent and repair serves as a testament to the rich cultural dialog of the journey. This project is the convergence of years of dedicated research into multicultural identity and the positioning of Native American artists in a contemporary context. It is also a means of transitioning my theories about cultural identity into a tangible body of work.
As a displaced Northerner living in the American South, I am finding connections to my Northern, post-industrial roots and the fragments that have led to the demise of the once-great modern industrial city of Detroit. This project is the fifth installment in my on-going investigation into cultural identity and the ever-changing contemporary landscape.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Special thanks to the Thomas Allen Davis Charitable Fund, Anthony Bagnoli for rebuilding the 4.6 liter Northstar and Gerald Olszewski for financial assistance.
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