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An artist as dynamic as Frida Kahlo deserves to have her work showcased in an equally bold setting. Mexico City’s newest exhibition, “Frida: La Experiencia Inmersiva,” lives up to the task.
The installation opened in Kahlo’s hometown last month in celebration of her would-be 114th birthday. Part music and light show, part living diary, and part interactive experience, the exhibition is the latest in the immersive art trend that garnered traction in the past couple of years with the wildly successful launch of the traveling “Van Gogh Alive” exhibit.
According to Cocolab, the multimedia experience brand that produced the show’s visual effects, “Frida is an immersive, multi-sensory experience that takes the work of artist Frida Kahlo and presents it on a monumental scale accompanied by music, scenography, sculpture, interaction, and digital animation.”
A 35-minute light show illuminates many of Kahlo’s most moving works, including “The Two Fridas” and “The Broken Column.” In total, the installation uses 90 projectors and 50 speakers to breathe new life into the artist’s vision.
Also included in the exhibition are interactive displays such as “Free Stroke,” which invites visitors to create digital masterpieces of their own, and a “Fantastic Creatures” game room that lets visitors select the subjects from Kahlo’s work that they most identify with. Even the bones of the exhibition space honor the artist’s genius, with thoughtful touches like textured curtains, visuals projected on the floor to mirror the artworks on display, and walls designed to disappear to make the installation feel limitless and larger than life.
“Frida” also immerses visitors in Kahlo’s life. The exhibition is soundtracked by Spanish musicians the artist loved, and it includes narration from her personal journals and letters. This allows visitors to “get to know Frida’s paintings, but with a little bit of familiarity and intimacy,” Kahlo’s great-grandniece Mara de Anda told Agence France Presse. “I believe that Frida was very avant-garde and modern, so this fits perfectly. She was a woman ahead of her time.”
According to Spanish news organization EFE, Anda also expressed her family’s hopes that the installation will help viewers get to know the woman behind the artwork, “not the Frida who suffered, but the one we know and the one we love.”
This hope reflects the nature of Kahlo’s work. Famous for her self-portraits, Kahlo’s portfolio reads like an autobiography, chronicling her life as a woman, an artist, an influential figure, a person with illnesses and disabilities, and the wife of fellow artist Diego Rivera, whose romance with Kahlo was notoriously complicated.
“Frida: La Experiencia Inmersiva” is on display every Tuesday through Sunday in the Frontón México entertainment center by Alameda Central, the oldest public park in Mexico City and one that’s fittingly ringed by several must-see museums, including the Museu Nacional de Arte, Museu de Arte Popular, and Museo Mural Diego Rivera. Art-loving travelers in the Mexican capital can experience all of the above on a single outing, then head to La Casa Azul, or Blue House, a museum dedicated to Kahlo housed in the home she once shared with Rivera.
Tickets to the exhibition range between $14 and $18, and shows start on the hour from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM. For optimal immersion, visitors can download the Frida app, which syncs with the audio-visual performance and offers more in-depth background on the artist and her works.
For US-based Frida lovers, “Frida Kahlo: Timeless,” an exhibition displaying 26 of her paintings, will be taking place in Chicago until September 6, 2021.