Mummy Dearest: Local Artist Michael 23 To Wrap Up A Few Friends At The Icehouse On Sunday

Thought Crime's Michael 23 under wraps.

By Benjamin Leatherman

Über-eccentric local artist Michael 23 and the Thought Crime collective have created some pretty whacked out spectacles over the past decade or so. There's the 20-foot inflatable "UFO" he and other artists constructed out of trash bags on the ASU campus in 1997, or the time he buried himself alive in the backyard of The Firehouse in downtown Phoenix last year.

The artist's latest stunt is similarly gonzo, as he's planning to "mummify" 23 of his friends and fellow artists by completely wrapping them up with fabric and duct tape this Sunday, November 23, at the Icehouse, 429 West Jackson Street.

They'll all be completely enveloped by the makeshift shrouds, save for some air holes to breather through, of course.

So why is the artist turning almost two dozen peeps into wanna-be Tutankhamunns?

Michael 23 hopes it will permit the participants an opportunity to experience a kind of spiritual journey.

"Basically it's a meditative ritual ordeal, kinda like a poor man's sensory depravation chamber that will allow them to have a 'focused altered state' for a time," he says. "They'll all be having a private experience."

Michael 23 says he'll also be playing experimental music to help participants along in their "inner journeys," but many will listen to their own "internal sound system and inner thoughts," or rocking the iPod and earbuds.

"They're all invited to bring their own soundtrack for their experience," he says.

Michael 23 has done two similar mummifications before, like when he was wrapped up himself during The Firehouse's grand opening in January 2006. For this event he and other photographers will also be

So is it a scary experience? The artist says no.

"I definitely don't think there's a lot of fear about this [by the participants], but a few people are bringing their own watchers anyway," he says. "It's more of a consciously chosen ordeal, like I said, a ritual experience."

It could possibly lead to something a little supernatural, he adds.

"One of the most interest parts of the experience is that you come out of your body. What I'm wondering though, is that if the people participating have an out-of-body experience, will they all run into each other?" Michael 23 says, deadpanning.

Everyone starts going under wraps starting at 8 p.m. Call 602-300-7575 for more info.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.