Ib real-life Guertena art exhibit lets fans feel like they are in the game [event report]

To commemorate the release of the Nintendo Switch version of Ib, an art exhibition was held from March 2 to 12 at GALLERY X BY PARCO, which is located at Shibuya PARCO in Tokyo, Japan.

Ib is a horror-adventure game that takes place in the fictional Guertena Art Gallery. First released as a freeware title in 2012, it still enjoys great popularity even now, more than ten years later, and has cemented its place in the history of Japanese freeware games. A remake of the game was released on Steam in 2022 by publisher PLAYISM, and that version was also ported to the Nintendo Switch in March 2023.

* Disclosure: The publisher PLAYISM is part of Active Gaming Media, which is also the owner of this website.

The exhibition featured 39 paintings by Weiss Guertena that appear within the game and were recreated under the supervision of Ib’s creator, kouri. The event allowed visitors to relive the experience of the game’s protagonist, Ib, which is surely a tantalizing prospect for many fans.

In fact, the concept proved so popular that all the tickets were sold out before the exhibition even began. In response to the passionate hopes of fans, it was decided that the exhibition would be held in two more locations in Japan: Nagoya, and Shinsaibashi in Osaka. Further details can be found below:

・Nagoya (official website)
Exhibition dates: April 22 – May 7 (JST)
Advanced ticket sales lottery period: March 29 18:00 – April 9 23:59 (JST)

・Shinsaibashi (official website)
Exhibition dates: May 12 – May 29 (JST)
Advanced ticket sales lottery period: April 12 15:00 – April 30 23:59 (JST)

As I (the original author of this article) was lucky enough to attend the exhibition, I would like to use the rest of the article to discuss what I found interesting as a fan of the game.

Artworks that look like they were pulled straight out of the game

There are a variety of paintings by Weiss Guertena on display. Some are lovely, some eerie, and some surreal. All have been recreated from the game, and I enjoyed seeing them and reliving memories from when I played it, like “Oh, this one is at the start of the game,” “I used this one to solve that puzzle,” and “This is one that attacked me…” For the works that I didn’t remember, it would probably be fun to play the game again and seek them out.

And no discussion of this exhibition would be complete without mentioning the “moving paintings.” For those who have played Ib, were you ever taken aback by a painting that suddenly moved? Well, at this exhibition you could experience that shock for real.

That having been said, they are not constantly moving. Quite the contrary, they mostly don’t move at all. And that is the key point, as I was simply enjoying the exhibition completely unaware of anything unusual until I unexpectedly overheard a fellow attendee say, “Wait, did it move just now?” Soon, everyone who had become curious gathered together and waited patiently for the moment when the painting moved. The sense of unity I had with the other attendees and the slight feeling of excitement we experienced when we finally saw it move have been etched deeply into my memory.

The numerous displays that will leave players of the game grinning

The artwork that I was most looking forward to seeing was Abyss of the Deep, a giant painting that depicts an eerie deep-sea fish. In the game, it is located on the floor and gives off a sinister air. It is an artwork that could be described as the face of the Guertena exhibition and, as such, likely left a big impression on many. I was curious as to how they would reproduce the piece, and to my surprise, it was right there, smack in the middle of the exhibition, just like in the game. It was perfectly recreated, even down to the way it was cordoned off with stanchions and velvet ropes.

What’s more, it appeared to be gently wavering, as if it was the entrance to some kind of alternate world. Upon approaching the painting and getting a closer look, I realized that it was a projection mapping onto the surface of some water. I was left deeply impressed that they had come up with such an ingenious display.

The paintings were not the only thing that was recreated for this exhibition. The first things that you are greeted by when you arrive are a message that says, “Welcome to the world of Guertena,” a rose, which represents your life bar within the game, and a notebook and quill pen, which mimics the game’s save points. All three are likely to be familiar to those who have played the game. Furthermore, the music played at the exhibit seemed to be taken from the game too. Those who attended the exhibition were able to totally immerse themselves in the world of Ib.

The original exhibition merch that you will want to buy

There was also a section of the exhibition where you could purchase merchandise. It was full of items that you found yourself wanting to buy, like a limited edition of Ib for the Nintendo Switch that comes with a bonus Guertena exhibition poster, blind-boxed acrylic stands, an acrylic diorama, and more. There were also lenticular cards that are based on the in-game paintings and change image depending on the angle they are viewed from, which brings to mind the moving paintings of Ib.   

Other items include a tote bag, a sketch book with Abyss of the Deep on the cover, and postcards featuring the paintings. It was chock-full of merch that Ib fans would love to get their hands on. You can see the full line-up on PARCO’s online store (for those in Japan).

They have also decided to hold a lottery for the chance to purchase the artworks that were on display at the exhibition. This is expected to take place sometime in June or later.

Ib is currently available on PC (Steam) and the Nintendo Switch.

Written by. Marco Farinaccia based on the original Japanese article (original article’s publication date: 2023-03-24 18:27 JST)