When London’s Serpentine Gallery launches ‘New Fiction’, its new exhibition with American artist KAWS (Brian Donnelly), it will be open to millions more people than can fit through the doors of its location. at Kensington Gardens. The show is launched on Monday simultaneously in fortnite, as an almost exact replica of the London experience, inviting the 350 million players of the phenomenally popular game to experience it for themselves.
“It’s a real 1-1 exhibition, in a classic museum space, where paintings and sculptures are hung and positioned in a particular way, and that’s exactly how it was done in fortnite“, explains KAWS. “For a lot of teenagers, this may be their first time seeing an art show in a museum, and I think there’s a great opportunity to provide that in an area…fortnite– whom they know so well. I remember being younger I found galleries intimidating, but this is your territory. And it’s exciting that it’s never been done.
Players can access the Fortnite Serpentine Gallery in the game’s creative mode, where an exact replica has been built, with KAWS artwork positioned and configured as it is in the IRL gallery. The exhibition is inaugurated today.
For Epic, this is just the game’s latest foray into an expanded cultural footprint. fortniteThe 2020 Travis Scott concert saw over 27.7 million players participate in the live in-game event. Last year, Verizon built a version of Raymond James Stadium in Tampa for the Super Bowl that drew 40 million visitors.
Epic Games Director of Partnerships Kevin Durkin Says fortnite is a social entertainment destination for millions of gamers, and the company sees the art as an obvious extension of the cultural collaborations the game has made in music and sports, it was just about finding the right time and the good partner. “Art itself is an important part of culture, and we really wanted to help democratize access to it, as well as galleries like the Serpentine,” says Durkin. “But we also really wanted to bring KAWS to more of the world.”
KAWS may be the perfect artist for fortnite to launch his first museum art exhibition with. His work has long been a brand unto itself, whether through his own toys and prints or via a long list of brand collaborations, from Uniqlo, Nike and Commes des Garçons, to Sesame Street, Peanuts and Bape. Last week, The North Face unveiled its own KAWS collection. Epic Games, meanwhile, has become a giant when it comes to collaboration, whether it’s integrating characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Dunes, and DC, fashion brands like Balenciaga and Moncler, or happy musical artists as brand partners like McDonald’s meal designers Travis Scott and J Balvin.
This isn’t the first time the two have worked together. Last fall, KAWS created a collection of skins (playable fortnite characters) for the game’s “Fortnitemares” Halloween promotion. This laid the groundwork between them, and the idea for a museum exhibit collaboration was born soon after.
For KAWS, the biggest challenge was planning and locking down what its Serpentine exhibit would look like so far in advance. “Usually if I’m doing a museum exhibit, I have a polystyrene model in my studio and I work with that, and then when I show up in person, things move, just because of the feeling of the space. physics,” says KAWS. “But here we really had to focus and understand the layout in order to do everything up front to create it digitally. It’s really unbelievable.”
Durkin says that from a tactical standpoint, it really pushed the design and 3D modeling teams at Epic, the third-party creators he works with like Alliance Studios and Beyond Creative, KAWS and the Serpentine, to figure out how to to give life. “We all had to work together to make sure the quality and fidelity of these sculpts and works was as high as possible,” says Durkin.
fortnite hopes that this exhibition will illustrate to others the artistic possibilities of its platform. “Our creative tools for creating and publishing experiences for this global audience are open to everyone, so we hope this inspires and excite people to get other artists and creatives to invest in and build more of these experiences,” says Durkin.
KAWS hopes that this and other digital art experiences will not be seen as a metaverse movement to replace the live art experience, but as a complement. “I think the abilities available now really make the experience feel real,” he says. “I always tend to approach things with skepticism, but seeing how true this can be, I think it’s just one more way to experience art.”