Before stepping into the “Frida Kahlo, An Immersive Biography,” know one thing – there won’t be original Frida Kahlo art.
“We’re different than other interactive rooms,” says Angela Di Corpo, the exhibit marketing director. “We actually don’t feature any of her paintings. The experience is about her life and her story. This is focused on Frida Kahlo.”
The experience kicked off on Sept. 29 and runs through the end of October, at the Immersive Pavilion, 1820 Bellamah NW, in the Sawmill District.
Albuquerque is the fourth stop for the touring exhibit, which traveled from a successful run in Phoenix.
Crews arrived in Albuquerque and got the exhibit ready in 10 days.
“Albuquerque was a no-brainer for us because of the culture here,” Di Corpo says. “Frida remains a cultural icon and her popularity continues to grow.”
Kahlo was born in 1907 and had a life riddled with pain.
Somewhere between Kahlo’s own myth-making and her self-portraits lies an ever-shifting identity. Slipping from Native queen to wounded deer, she was both nursing infant and bedridden bride.
The look was practical as well. The long, full skirts concealed a leg deformed by childhood polio. When she was 18, a wooden bus carrying Kahlo collided with a streetcar. An iron handrail impaled her pelvis, fracturing the bone. She never fully recovered, enduring 30 operations throughout her lifetime.
Painting became a way to explore her identity. When Kahlo was bedridden, her caretakers installed a mirror above her easel so that she could paint herself, a process she continued as her body disintegrated.
Through her art, she employed a naïve folk art style to explore questions of identity, post-colonialism, gender, class, and race in Mexican society.
Di Corpo says the many facets of the experience add to the education about Kahlo’s life.
The experience begins with an altar, which is dedicated to Kahlo’s life.
“This focuses on her death and in Mexican culture, we honor the dead on Day of the Dead,” she says. “The altar represents those people who have passed. We have all of her favorite things.”
Visitors then enter the education tunnel where panels are lined up breaking down Kahlo’s life.
“We talk about her childhood, her adolescence and her different passions,” Di Corpo says. “Motherhood, you know that she really longed to have a child, but she couldn’t. Because of that, animals became her children. This is the space where visitors can get a big of background and learn a little more about Frida.”
Di Corpo says visitors will then enter the immersive room where a 30-plus minute loop is projected onto the walls in the room.
“This is where it becomes visually stunning,” she says. “You become immersed with Frida’s life and some of her inspirations.”
Di Corpo says the exhibit doesn’t shy away from the difficult part of Kahlo’s life.
There are two spaces that depict the hurt in her life. One area has five screens reinterpreting her accident in the bus.
“Sit back and watch this one,” Di Corpo says. “It’s stunning to see such depth with the panels.”
For an addition price, there’s a chance to experience an award-winning 8-minute virtual reality journey where Kahlo comes to life.
“Then there’s ‘La Rosita,’ which is a coloring room,” Di Corpo says. “This is where you can color and you put it on the projector and it comes to life. There’s also a costume room where you can see the fashion of that time.”
The experience takes about 90 minutes, though visitors can move at their own pace.