Gaming

In London, the artist Kaws launches the first exhibition on Fortnite

In parallel to the physical exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery, the 400 million fans of Fortnite have access to a faithful replica of the museum in the video game with the artist’s works of art.

This is a first for the Fortnite video game. The New York artist Kaws, whose real name is Brian Donnelly, installed his pop paintings and colorful sculptures on Tuesday at the Serpentine Gallery, but also in the virtual replica of the London museum within the video game with 400 million followers.

Amidst the frozen gardens of Hyde Park in central London, onlookers point their phones at the roof of the Serpentine Gallery. Do they take a photo of the building with red bricks and white columns? Not at all ! Using their laptop, they make a large sculpture of a blue man sitting on the roof appear in augmented reality, invisible to the naked eye. From the entrance, the sculpture of the New Yorker Kaws sets the tone: here virtual and reality are intertwined throughout the exhibition “Kaws: New Fiction”.

In fact, it is made up of “three layers”, artistic director Hans Ulrich Obrist explains to AFP. “There is the physical exhibition in the Serpentine Gallery with paintings and sculptures, there are elements of augmented reality and there is the Serpentine Gallery in Fortnite”, one of the most popular video games in the world. For one week, the 400 million followers of the Epic Games phenomenon have access to a completely faithful replica of the game museum, to walk around with their avatar and contemplate the works. Epic Game has already collaborated in a similar way with internationally renowned singers who have come to give concerts in the game, such as Aya Nakamura and Ariana Grande. “But this is the first time that Fortnite has collaborated with the visual arts, with a public gallery,” welcomes Mr. Obrist. He judges it “very different” to see an exhibition in a game or physically, but considers these experiences “complementary”: many visitors are not familiar with the world of video games and therefore could be interested in it, and vice versa for Players. .

“I think that for some children it will be the first time that they feel comfortable, in their comfort zone, inside an exhibition”

Brian Donnelly, artist known as Kaws

“For us it is about reaching very different audiences”, creating “a transgenerational dialogue”, adds the artistic director. In fact, “the average age of Fortnite players”, very popular among teenagers, “is much younger than that of an average visitor to a museum”, emphasizes Hans Ulrich Obrist, who “hopes that a whole new generation will arrive So to the gallery. ”. Especially since this project “will reach an audience that is probably ten times larger than the Venice Biennale,” says exhibition curator Daniel Birnbaum.

Also for the artist, the interest lies in making his works more accessible. “Ce qui m’intéresse, c’est de savoir que mon travail peut être vu par un enfant en Inde comme à Londres”, explained the 47-year-old painter and sculptor to the AFP, “c’est fascinating” réplique-t -He. “Suddenly such a large community will be able to go to the museum, see these paintings and sculptures”, congratulates the former graffiti artist turned plastic artist, “I think that for some children it will be the first time they feel at home, at ease, in their area of comfort, within an exhibition”.

In illustration, the virtual reality replica of the exhibition in the game Fortnite. Screenshot Instagram @kaws

“There will be no shooting at the exhibition”

Brian Donnelly, artist Kaws

Its stylized skull characters, which have already traveled the world with giant installations or derivative products, will be able to seduce the young Fortnite audience with its pop, accessible and colorful side. Kaws, whose second collaboration with Fortnite, explains that his works will be showcased in the “creative hub,” a game-specific mode away from games where players compete to be the last one standing. “There will be no shooting at the exhibition,” he jokes, praising a community “different from what we think.” As for whether adrenaline-seeking gamers will actually stop to gaze at his works in-game, “it’s hard to say,” concedes the artist, without falling into defeatism: “If you take an eleven-year-old to a museum traditional, I don’t know if he’s going to look at the plays. It’s no different.”

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