An immersive exhibit of Frida Kahlo is in San Francisco and other cities. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Being immersed in art is a wonderful thing—until it’s not.

I learned I like my art old school. On a wall where I can take my time to appreciate the artist’s work, to contemplate the detail, the grasp the nuances, to even walk away when it hasn’t grabbed me.

Earlier this month I experienced “Immersive Frida Kahlo: Her Life, Her Love, Her Art” in San Francisco. (“Immersive Van Gogh” plays on other days at the same venue.) I didn’t entirely know what to expect, but had heard/read good things about both exhibits.

But this isn’t really an exhibit. It’s a movie of sorts. For more than 40 minutes there is a continuous loop of digitalized art projected on all of the walls of this large room. Most people were sitting socially distanced apart in circles, with a few benches available, while others were on cushions they rented.

The “movie” tells the story of Kahlo’s life, if that’s possible in such a short amount of time without any narrative. It helped to know a little about this artist from Mexico who lived from 1907 to 1954 in Mexico, the United States and France. Twice she was married to Diego Rivera.

I believe this immersive presentation would be a good introduction to art, especially for those who find museums too stodgy and impersonal. For the generations that need constant stimulation these immersive art shows are probably ideal. The visual is not static, it’s always moving and changing. Images of Kahlo’s art sit for a moment, but not long enough to truly appreciate it—or even get bored by it.

Music plays, so you aren’t sitting in silence. One couple in their twenties spent more time dancing than they did looking at what was being shown. This was not a dancing event. They missed the point. Or maybe I did.

I’m glad I went. I just wouldn’t need to go to another immersive art exhibit.

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