In a large, empty underground room in central London, a baby crawls across a floor covered in mirrors as hundreds of Salvador Dalí clock faces melt and drool beside, above and – or so it seems. it seems – below him. For some, this might be disconcerting; the child, however, seems delighted, happily rushing to a mirrored column to plant a slobbery kiss on his own reflection.
Elsewhere in the room, a girl twirls; in the center, their mothers sit on the floor, chatting quietly as huge projections of works by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Henri Rousseau and Edvard Munch twist and come to life on every surface around them.
This is Frameless, the capital’s newest toddler enchanter – or, as he would prefer, Britain’s biggest immersive art experience, ‘where the art breaks free’. It is without frames, but also without physical presence, because it is an art exhibition that does not contain any real tangible art. The capital has plenty of other options if real paintings are your bag. Frameless, instead, offers 90 minutes of Instagram-friendly light and sound experience across 30,000 square feet of London bunker.
Why this? “A lot of people are quite intimidated by the idea of going into a traditional gallery,” says Rosie O’Connor, co-curator. “For the average person, there are a lot of white walls, a lot of art historians saying clever things around you. And you look at this painting thinking, what am I supposed to feel?”
She hopes to inspire people to go to galleries and see the art itself, but especially after the pandemic, she says, “people want that sense of connection and escape. With all of us on our phones all the time, I think we’re no longer able to stand and watch and get the same kind of emotional connection.
“Accessibility and inclusion” were central to Frameless’ planning, she says.
However, many of the galleries are free, making them much more accessible than an attraction whose website sells standard day tickets at £90 for a family of four. “Well, there’s a world-class team that put this together, with world-class technology,” says O’Connor, “so I guess it comes at a cost.” (Unlike many similar experiences, this is not a temporary exhibit designed for touring, but indicates that she wishes to inhabit her Marble Arch home permanently.) There is an “ambition” to introduce an apprenticeship program that could include low-cost school tickets, according to a spokesperson, but no concrete plans yet.
For those who like the idea of stepping into a giant screensaver, the effect is undeniably impressive – and some of those who visited on Friday morning felt it was well worth the effort. “Oh my God, I never want to leave, this is the best exhibit on the planet.” said Skye Anthonisz, spinning and twirling with her two young children in the “Colour in motion” interactive room. The family are visiting from their home in Zug, Switzerland. After seeing the exhibit featured on Instagram, she says she thought to herself, “I won’t leave London until I’ve been there.
Pensioners Stephen and Ros, from Epping, were a little less lively in the “Beyond Reality” room, but as well as lamenting the lack of chairs, they were equally impressed. “It’s like you’re part of the art, like it’s coming towards you,” Ros says of an animated version of Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights – carefully sanitized of sexual or disturbing elements.
“I thought it was pretty expensive when I first watched it, but I guess everything is,” Ros says. “Just look at London Zoo or the theatre,” adds her husband.
That said, Frameless is certainly hoping for busier crowds than was in evidence on Friday, when the first two hours of trading saw maybe 30 total visitors. The exchange rate had helped them, Anthonisz noted, but “for most people, it’s a lot of money. I guess ticket prices will drop at some point. They will have to or ordinary families will never be able to afford it.
With that, she separated again, following her six-year-old daughter Lila. “How can you stay still? »