From Dec. 5-9, Refinery29 is inviting the people of Los Angeles to expand their reality. In its fourth year, 29Rooms creates an interactive experience that brings to life installations revolving around social and cultural aspects of music, art, style, entertainment, technology, and issues in society. This year’s “Expand Your Reality” theme produced 29 activations with collaborators such as Lena Waithe, Kesha, and Cocovan; each artist was on hand to celebrate the opening on Dec. 4, at The Reef, in Downtown, Los Angeles.
At the start of the night, Waithe shared what went into curating her own exhibit. “Oh Say Can You See” is the Emmy winner’s four-part video installation that she crafted around the idea of “surrounding people with an experience about what it means to be Black in America and the juxtapositions that go along with that.” How does this expand people’s realities? Waithe tells AXS, “That’s up to them. You can either walk into it with an open mind, or not, and I hope people do.”
Each person we spoke with had a different idea on what expanding your reality looks like. According to “13 Reasons Why” actress, Anne Winters, it’s about facing your fears. Diona Reasonover, from “NCIS,” says it’s about opening yourself up to new possibilities. “School of Rock” star, Jade Pettyjohn, describes it as a having the ability to listen. Model, Broderick Hunter, explains it as elevating who you already are.
“The Four” winner, Evvie McKinney, expanded on that, talking about how walking away victorious from Season 1, broadened her own reality in a way that she never could have imagined. “One thing I loved that Diddy said to me on the show was, ‘You got up there and you were fearless.’ I just wish that women, in general, would be fearless,” the singer professed, “not just because you’re pretty, but be fearless because of who you are. In this world, you have to love yourself, and know why you love yourself.”
“Riverdale” actor, Hart Denton, echoes the same sentiment when it comes to self-love and challenges people to expand their own realities by putting down their phones. He says that deleting one of his social media apps for a couple of weeks actually opened up his imagination and put an end to self-comparison.
Ironically, in an age when social media is meant to keep us connected, a lot of what presented itself through these exhibits stressed that oftentimes, what is supposed to keep us closer, does the opposite. In fact, while most installations offer plenty of Instagram-worthy moments, some experiences request that you put your phone away in order to remain present.
Exhibits such as “29 Questions,” which invites people to connect with strangers, and “Inner Beauty Ball,” a real-life dance party with the Brooklyn-based ensemble, “House of Yes,” prompts those participating to pack away any devices in order to get the full experience of getting lost in the moment.
Other activations include Kesha’s “Deep Sea Galaxy: Welcome to My Mind” (which is implied to align with her soon-to-be-released music), Cocovan’s “Love Letter To The World,” Nicole Richie’s “Star Matter,” and “Claim the Stage” with Amazon Prime’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Guests can also experience augmented reality with 29th Dimension: a special technology that provides an exclusive Instagram experience.
While Refinery29’s 29Rooms in Los Angeles is incredibly fun, it’s also about challenging yourself to do different things. It invites you to step away from your comfort zone, experience life from alternative viewpoints, and to dream of a universe that exists outside of yourself.
If you’re in Los Angeles and would like to immerse yourself in a world of culture and creativity over the next few days, you can visit 29rooms.com or @29Rooms on social media for additional information.