Immersive Van Gogh reimagined as drive-thru art exhibition

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A massive digital art exhibition devoted to Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh is switching to a drive-in format.

After public health measures restricting large gatherings forced the five-storey Immersive van Gogh to push its scheduled premiere date this month, organizers have decided to make the show accessible by vehicle for 11 days in June as a “preview.”

Visitors can now “Gogh By Car” from June 18-28 by driving into the exhibition space in the former Toronto Star printing press at 1 Yonge. The venue will be able to accommodate 14 vehicles per ticketed time slot.

Once inside, participants park, “turn off their engines, and enjoy a 35-minute show from inside their cars featuring an all-encompassing experience of art, light, sound, movement and imagination that evokes the highly emotional and chaotic inner consciousness of one of the greatest artists of all time.”

The show features a curated selection of van Gogh’s works reimagined in digital formats. Patrons who drive-thru will also receive walk-in tickets that will be good for when the regular show is safe to open in its original format.

The five-storey “immersive” show will bring the Dutch master’s paintings to life using light, sound and movement. Producers are billing their lockdown-inspired preview as “the world’s first drive-in digital art exhibition.”

“Presenting cultural events during this time of COVID-19 is an incredible challenge and we are saddened to see the cultural calendar in Toronto diminished as almost all arts institutions have cancelled their events and laid off their artists and staff,” the event’s co-producer Corey Ross said in a statement. “We believe in the power of art to uplift, inspire and connect communities; and it is more important than ever to offer a creative outlet for Torontonians to escape and recharge during this unprecedented global crisis.”

“We have been working around the clock to come up with innovative approaches that will make presenting Immersive van Gogh safe for our audiences, while keeping our artists, contractors and staff employed at their pre-COVID salaries,” added co-producer Svetlana Dvoretsky. 

But what about cyclists? A rep for the show tells NOW the “drive-in concept will only be available to cars for now so that people can stay in the contained environment of their cars.”

The regular exhibition is slated to begin in July and run through September. Tickets are available on a first come, first serve basis via vangoghexhbit.ca.

The show is by Lighthouse Immersive, the company behind The Art of Banksy show that toured to Toronto two years ago. It was designed by creative director and Italian film producer Massimiliano Siccardi and features music by composer Luca Longobardi. The duo previously collaborated on the Atelier des Lumières, an “immersive” Van Gogh art show in Paris.

The site-specific exhibition’s is located inside the vacant building adjacent to 1 Yonge, which closed in 1992 when the Toronto Star’s printing operations moved to Vaughn.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the province has restricted large public gatherings for the “foreseeable future” though it is not clear yet when museums and galleries will reopen. Ontario will detail the first stage of its reopening plan on Thursday.

@KevinRitchie

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Kevin has worked in journalism for 20 years, first as a general assignment reporter before being sucked into the glamorous life that is arts and entertainment coverage. Kevin now contributes to music, tv, film and culture.

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May 13, 2020

10:34 AM