29Rooms, the exhibition created for social media

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A WOMAN poses in an abstract gallery during the 29Rooms exhibition on Sept. 10, in New York. Writing on walls, diving into foam cubes or becoming a living picture, the 29Rooms exhibition in New York offered visitors the opportunity to interact with art installations and stage the perfect format for smartphones and social networks, where one can “touch the art,” “wear,” “hit” the fist or “jump on it,” organizer Piera Gelardi said.

NEW YORK – Visitors were touching the art, wearing it and even jumping on it at the popular immersive exhibition 29Rooms held in a Brooklyn warehouse.

Artists, companies and nonprofits have come together for the interactive event hosted by the Web site Refinery29 which closed on Monday after a four-day run.

In stark contrast with traditional museums, visitors to 29Rooms were encouraged to physically engage with the installations, said executive creative director and cofounder Piera Gelardi.

The event, she explained, takes “the fun and interactivity of a fun house” and pairs it with “the cultural relevance of a museum” – with the 29 spaces relating to topics covered on the Web site.

Instagram posts and selfies are encouraged.


“We know people are craving experiences in real life but that they also want to fuel their digital lives,” Gelardi said.

“Art can be very intimidating and we wanted to create a different experience of art that was very interactive,” she said.

“We started focused on style but we have grown to be covering everything from style and beauty to politics, body image,” she said.

All 20,000 tickets, costing $19 each, were snapped up before the event opened for its third year on Friday.

Exhibits included a creation by actor Jake Gyllenhaal which invited visitors to write a personal worry on a piece of paper before destroying it with a manual shredder.

Another room, created by American artist Alexa Meade, saw visitors wear painted clothes and accessories, blending seamlessly into a wall also painted by Meade as they posed for a photo.

Meade is best-known for painting living subjects, but she tweaked her successful formula to “bring more people into the experience and allow other people to physically become the artwork and the painting.”

There were also rooms promoting social messages, such as one in collaboration with family planning organization Planned Parenthood, which invited visitors to listen to the stories of people it has helped.

“We want to create an experience that is fun and joyful but that is also thought provoking and that taps what’s happening in culture right now,” said Gelardi.

Seven of the 29 rooms were done in partnership with a brand, according to the exhibition’s Web site. – AFP