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Art meets Voyeurism as Madrid hotel turns bedrooms into galleries

Tent in a bed by Grigoria Vryttia
Tent in a bed by Grigoria Vryttia   -   Copyright  Alicia Guirao
By Jaime Velazquez

Madrid's Hybrid Art Fair has turned 33 bedrooms of a city centre hotel into art galleries

This curious fair showcases a wide range of pieces and experiences, from paintings and sculpture to performance, installations, and new media. A total of 150 artists, both local and international, and from different walks of life, have displayed their work in the rooms and corridors of The Petit Palace Hotel Santa Barbara in Madrid over the course of three days.

The hotel vibe moved from its usual elevator music and the sound of suitcase casters trundling along floors, to vibrant artwork in the staircase and tv screens showing video art; the rooms transformed from plain carpets and bed covers to tables filled with fermented foods, and even a corner where one can converse with death itself.

It’s an all-round immersive experience.

“When visitors enter the rooms, they enter a world of contemporary art that surrounds them and draws them in,” Ana Sanfrutos, co-director of Hybrid Art Fair tells Euronews Culture.

Alicia Guirao
Alina Kopytsa's bedroom at HybridAlicia Guirao

“This is part of the experience," she adds. "It’s something you don’t expect to happen inside a hotel. It sparks the visitor’s curiosity… to sneak into the rooms and see how an artist has changed the whole space and turned it into something completely different”.

Art becomes the main attraction in these rooms. You might find ceramic sculptures or framed pictures laying on the bed. Perhaps some photography above the bedside table next to an old-fashioned telephone

Other creatives had a different approach to how they curated their room, making it subject to a complete transformation as if you were entering somewhere otherworldly. The atmosphere of one of the bathrooms, lit with nothing but green neon crosses, was reminiscent of a security chamber guarding something precious and forbidden.

Another was turned into a workshop with an enormous puffy cotton car: an impossible mattress. In Alina Kopytsa’s room, a satin bed cover displays hand-sewn scenes of eroticism. On the bed head and the walls, the patches on the quilts exhibit the artist's perspective on intimacy.

Alicia Guirao
Hybrid Art Fair gets intimateAlicia Guirao

“When I got invited to this exhibition I thought this was the perfect occasion to show this work. I often play with private and public (space) and sexuality. It is shown in a public space but it talks about quite intimate topics, and I think it is important to talk about sexuality and that even if it is private, it shouldn’t be seen as a big secret,” she explained.

Unlike in a conventional art fair or gallery, Hybrid Art Fair establishes a different relationship between the artists and the viewers. The fact that the visitors must enter the rooms to view the work puts them in a position where there is a sense of invasiveness - as if they were entering the artist’s own private space. A sense of voyeurism creeps in. 

“You're entering a space that, first of all, has a bed in it. This is something very intimate. And this space invites and sparks a conversation between the visitor and the gallerist or the artists”, Sanfrutos told Euronews.

“It’s not that white cube at art fairs and museums that often makes viewers feel overwhelmed, as if contemporary art is something out of the reach of the majority, something you cannot understand”, the Hybrid co-director added.

“Here we want the experience to have an important sense of fun. We want visitors to enjoy, to let themselves be surprised… We want them to discover new things and speak with the artists. That’s what makes us different and why we think a bedroom is such a great space to achieve this”.