A Case for the Pop Ups, Part I: Museum of Ice Cream Recap
I love pop ups and interactive museums. I know that they have been branded Instagram bait and many people think they bring no value, but I think differently. Scroll down for a list of just a couple of my reasons and some things I would do differently. Also, enjoy the pics from my very first pop up experience at the Museum of Ice Cream!
1. Art hasn't always been an interactive experience because the medium used to be different. Paintings, sculptures, photo prints, and videos aren't necessarily allowed or calling to be touched. But in a pop up, there is usually an immersive room/world. For me, that's the one thing I enjoy about interactive experiences. They're transporting you to another state of mind. Different from looking or standing and taking a picture in front of a mural or museum piece. When I was younger I would draw a fictional land called "Dazeramar" over and over. It was created from the basic geometrical shapes, squares, circles, triangles. The circle had a stairway that led into another portal, or another world. I don't remember which, it's been so long. I remember wishing it was real, so I could go on an adventure and escape for a little. I've had so much fun playing in a ball pit with my siblings, felt at peace standing in a mirrored room, feeling like one soul within a sea of a thousand twinkling lights. It allows me to escape, even for just 1 minute. These "pop ups" that we've been seeing all over the world for the last 3 years are redefining the way that a user interacts with art. Even if people aren't allowed to touch anything, they're allowed to capture that they were there through a picture and physically be IN the art, which I think takes the experience to a whole other level.
2. The art world has long been ran by the old, rich, and privileged. The teams for pop ups that I am seeing across the US have included younger, more socially aware individuals, and most importantly, more black and brown womxn and womxn of color. The new folks who curate, produce, and work on these exhibitions are bringing different ideas to the public eye. 29Rooms is a great example of a company doing just that and I have tickets to go see the rooms in July! So excited!
3. Lastly, but not least, it's another thing to DO. I don't drink or have a regular bar I go to. I don't go to many parties. Sometimes, I don't even like leaving my house. But I don't like doing just nothing. I love art and I love museums. I love going to things that are limited edition, things that are once in a lifetime. Pop ups are like a cheaper, quicker Disney World. Sometimes it can be as simple as wanting something new and exciting to do with my free time. Pop ups and interactive exhibitions are truly a new option that is on the table to consider, and a plus is the majority are a fun time for kids. Bars have been around for ever and alcohol is usually available at many functions/events, and sometimes, you spend as much money on alcohol as a you do a pop up ticket. And people have been taking pics/selfies in bars for ages. I just don't enjoy that type of stuff. I'd rather go to a pop up. And dress up. And capture memorable photos. I have more fun doing that type of stuff. And at the end of the day, I'm just trying to have my fun. That is the most important thing to me.
Having these exhibitions be Instagram worthy is just an extra. Great digital cameras are an investment and a luxury, because they're not cheap. But now, everyone has a smart phone with a pretty great camera. They get better every year. Now, everyone has the tools they need to document, take selfies, and even capture incidents of social injustice. The smart phone didn't create these urges of wanting to take pictures. It's not as if people didn't like seeing art before the selfie or smart phone or Instagram. Even before smart phones or Instagram, I was going on school field trips to the museum and taking pictures. Where did I share these images? Myspace and Xanga, LOL. The smart phone just made capturing pictures more ACCESSIBLE for folks from different classes and Instagram just so happens to be around so you can share your images with strangers on the internet.
I have been to about 3 of these funhouses so far, with 2 scheduled for this summer, and here are a couple of things I am noticing that I would like to change:
1. Making these events more affordable so more folks who have lower income can experience these pop ups. People of all classes deserve to have fun. So, tickets should be cheaper, or there should be discount days. I've been able to afford tickets, but sometimes a 40 dollar ticket is food for a whole week for many folks. Tickets should be no more that 15-20 dollars in my opinion, unless you're a local art collective with less national public support and you need more funding.
2. With your platform, you have the opportunity to do better. So, here's to hoping that the owners of the latest pop up companies aren't horrible people. Either speak out on things, or show your support in other ways. 29Rooms has partnered up with Planned Parenthood for past events. Another example is the MoIC. In March, the museum invited all the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High to come and enjoy the museum following the events that happened at their school. The museum did away with admission and was able to offer a fun and relaxing environment for the students. The event was private for the students, and the press only found out after it happened, so the students were able to come and enjoy a fun filled day, stress and press free. I wish more companies would do this. I wish more things like this were available for black and brown people and people of color. So I'm calling on those with the platform to do better and make these events more accessible for everyone.
A Case for the Pop Ups, Part 2: Factory Obscura presents "Shift" will be live soon, a recap of a pop up created in the city I was raised in, OKC. I'll be sharing my thoughts and some hopes and dreams for OKC's art future. I can't wait to go to more of these funhouses, see what other ideas come to life, and create some experiences of my own in the future.