29Rooms Returns to New York With a Photo-Ready Mix of Art, Ads, and Activism—See 3 Highlights Here
There are some real artists amid the product placement at 29Rooms.
When Refinery29 celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2015 with 29Rooms—an interactive art installation rife with social media-friendly photo ops—they had no way of foreseeing the steep rise of the pop-up museum phenomenon, with crowds lining up to see and be seen at thematic exhibitions dedicated to everything from ice cream to avocados. The project proved to be prescient.
Over the past year, 29Rooms has become a nationwide event, expanding to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago. Now, just in time for New York Fashion Week, it’s back in Brooklyn with a hefty $39.99 ticket—up from $19 in 2017. The first two editions were free, but pop-up museums have since become proven money makers. (For $129.99, 29Rooms even offers an after-hours “Starlight” experience that includes three drinks.)
As always, 29Rooms offers an all-new slate of installations from artists, organizations, and corporate brands. So you can get a makeover in a cherry-themed room from Revlon, or register to vote at a New York City-style newsstand set up by the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. Other highlights include Jose A. Roda’s temple to gender fluidity and the ALCU’s game show-inspired Know Your Rights room. (The obligatory ball pit, courtesy of Pantene, is perhaps the smallest one I’ve ever seen.)
Also in evidence was the growing ASMR trend. There is a blindfolded sensory experience from Whisperlodge, an immersive theatrical project run by Chia Lynn Kwa and Melinda Lauw, who likened the soothing soundtrack and tactile elements to an “ASMR spa.”
Compared to previous editions, there seemed to be slightly less work from real artists, although illustrator Egle Zvirblyte tapped into the inflatable balloon dancer’s art-world roots with her zany installation. And Bushwick music venue the House of Yes seemed to have channeled Jason Rhoades with the hanging neon signs in the “Inner Beauty Ball” dance party. (There’s also an artist-in-residence room which will featured different artists in the studio throughout the show’s run.)
But for all the corporate sponsorship and product placement, artists still appreciate the platform that 29Rooms provides. “It’s an incredible access point,” Chris Lunney, half of the duo Magenta Field with Katherine Brice, told artnet News. “You can reach so many people with an idea.”
Here are the three most memorable artworks from this year’s 29Rooms Brooklyn:
Magenta Field, Reality Rendered
For 29Room’s most stunning photo op, look no further than Magenta Field’s Reality Rendered. The checkered floor and mirrored pyramid, cube, and spheres, paired with a hypnotizing light and sound show, look absolutely computer rendered. Like something out of a Surrealist painting, it has to be seen to be believed. “It’s virtual reality made real,” Lunney said. “The self-reflective landscape becomes a metaphor about how we construct our own reality.”
Uzumaki Cepeda, Teenage Bedroom
Uzumaki Cepeda, who has shown at Montreal’s Contemporary Native Art Biennial and will open her first solo museum show at Los Angeles’s Craft and Folk Art Museum on September 30, creates safe spaces out of faux fur. “For kids, the first place they feel safe is a bedroom,” she told artnet News. The installation, the kind of space the artist wishes she could have had during her own childhood, features a working Nintendo 64, every surface covered with Muppet-like fur in bold, primary colors.
Aaron Taylor Kuffner, Sonic Sanctuary
It’s been a busy summer for Aaron Taylor Kuffner, who in the last few weeks has had work in the Governor’s Island Art Fair, in the Nevada desert for Burning Man, and at the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery in Washington, DC. At 29Rooms, a glowing red room holds two of his “Gameltrons”—sonic kinetic sculptures that merge ancient Indonesian forging techniques and robotic technology to create a stunning 21st-century version of the country’s traditional musical instrument. “I work at the intersection of technology, sound, industrial design, and sculpture,” he told artnet News.
See more photos of 29Rooms below.
29Rooms is on view at 588 Baltic Street, Brooklyn, September 6–9 and 13–16, 2018.
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