It's no surprise that the pandemic has made dating harder than ever. Once upon a time for us art world-ers, our evenings were filled with Ruinart-fuelled openings, elbow-to-elbow gallery dinners and glamorous trips on the international art circuit. Now after work we're mostly found on the sofa in athleisure with a bottle of wine for one, scrolling through social media and mourning our former socialite lives.
At times like this, a day dedicated to celebrating love may seem the last thing the world's enforced singletons need. Enter Freeze Magazine, one of our favourite Instagram accounts satirising the art world. In honour of Valentine's Day, they have set up Freeze Dating, a digital service (or Lonely 'Arts Club, if you will) that matches up its love-deprived followers based on their favourite art memes.
So how does it work? "We asked Freeze Magazine followers to [fill in an online form with] a series of questions, from what they’re looking for to where they're based. Then they responded to a series of art memes. Their responses gave us hints about their interests and what they do in the art world. They are receiving their matches via Instagram direct messages," explains the anonymous Freeze Magazine founder.
Nearly a thousand people have signed up for the service. "Now face-to-face dates aren’t an option, Freeze Dating gives people an opportunity to meet people from anywhere. Followers applied not only from art centres like London and New York but also around the world, from Bali to Georgia, from South Africa to Canada." The project has been so popular that it had to close applications within 12 hours of launching.
With all the online dating options out there, why has this art-specific Instagram dating service taken off? "I have been following Freeze for a while and I thought it would be equally funny and interesting to see what matches would come up purely based on taste in memes," says Ruben, a composer and audiovisual artist based in Rotterdam who signed up for the project. “Freeze sounds like a space I can find like-minded people,” adds Negar, the social media manager of a private art foundation based in Tehran who also joined Freeze Dating.
"There are a lot of dating apps to choose from, but they all feel a bit impersonal. We like to think Freeze is a close-knit community," says the founder of Freeze Magazine. "Freeze Dating is the complete opposite of the usual digital dating experience. The chance to meet someone who shares not just your interests, but also a similar sense of humour excited people."
The Art Newspaper's singletons are obviously devastated to have missed out on the Freeze Dating experience... so will it be making a return? "We weren’t expecting such huge demand and have been overwhelmed with the reaction," the Freeze Magazine founder says. "This has been a learning experience. We’re already thinking about ways to improve and what we want to do next."
We can't wait. And how have the matches gone for Ruben and Negar? Watch this space...