Free Play

When 18 Mar 2014 - 20 Apr 2014
Where Arcadia University Art Gallery
450 S Easton Rd
Glenside, PA 19038
United States
Enquiry (877) 272-2342

“No vital periods ever began from a theory. What’s first is a game, a struggle, a journey.” – Guy Debord

Seeking the initial moment described by Debord, Free Play explores the work of artists who borrow from play and games to reveal social, philosophical, and cultural issues. From playfulness, to mathematical strategy, the artists in Free Play have mined the significance of games, reinventing them to create experiences, often meant to be involving the viewer, and reflecting on the nature of participation in art.

Artistic processes tied to game playing have historically attracted the avant-garde, most famously the chess master Marcel Duchamp. His artistic move had his chess partner in mind: you, the viewer. Games were also intrinsic to the work of war-addled Surrealists and Dadaists, the inventors of the exquisite corpse and automatic drawing, in their quest to upend the bourgeois pretensions of art and free the artistic imagination. In the 1960s and 1970s, the countercultural and anti-war Fluxus group and the New Games Foundation questioned capitalism and corporate culture by staging massive public games and city parks. Moving away from the classical chess period of kings, queens, and bishops, the works in this exhibition do not represent medieval figures but strategies of decision-making around contemporary issues.

Among the arcade of objects in the show is a version of Guitar Hero by Cory Arcangel, hopscotch by Mary Flanagan, and Ryan Gander’s version of blackjack – while the more mystically inclined may gravitate toward Allan McCollum and Matt Mullican’s divining game.

Traveling in an easy-to-ship box, Free Play includes smaller works and digital software, as well as instructions for building larger projects. Charged with a do-it-yourself imperative, this exhibition provides source material from which venues can adapt and add to the materials provided according to the space, facilities and local context available. The checklist may be added to with contributions from the host venue’s collections and archives, or can be the starting point for an exhibition that presents local artists’ practices in relation to a broader art issue or event.

Curator
Melissa E. Feldman is a Seattle-based independent curator and writer, and is a frequent contributor to Art in America, Frieze, Third Text, and Aperture, among other publications. Her recent exhibitions include Dance Rehearsal: Karen Kilimnik’s World of Ballet and Theatre (2012), organized by the Mills College Art Museum, Oakland, which travelled to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver. Afterglow: Rethinking California Light and Space Art (2010), Wiegand Gallery, Notre Dame de Namur University Art Gallery, Belmont, CA, and the Hearst Art Gallery at St. Mary’s College, Walnut Creek, CA, and Sampler: Textiles at Creative Growth (2007) at Creative Growth Art Center, Oakland. Feldman has taught at the California College of Art, the San Francisco Art Institute, and Goldsmith’s College, London, and is credited with organizing the first monographic exhibitions in America for Kilimnik, Martin Kippenberger, and Hiroshi Sugimoto in the early 1990s as a curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia.

Artists
Cory Arcangel, Ryan Gander, Jeanne van Heeswijk and Rolf Engelen, Pedro Reyes, David Shrigley, Yoko Ono, Ruth Catlow, Mary Flanagan, Futurefarmers, Allan McCollum and Matt Mullican, Paul Noble, Erik Svedäng, Jason Rohrer, Patrick Bernier and Olive Martin

Photo courtesy of the organiser/s

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