FREE PLAY Explores Art and Activism through Games
Exhibition at The College of Wooster Art Museum runs Jan. 13 through Mar. 6
WOOSTER, Ohio — The College of Wooster Art Museum (CWAM) will host FREE PLAY, an exhibition that brings together works by an international array of contemporary artists who produce works modeled on games and play, Jan 13 through Mar. 6, in the Ebert Art Center (1220 Beall Ave.).
Whether derived from the playground, video arcade, casino, or rec room, the 17 artists in FREE PLAY create experiences for the visitor that reflect on social, political, and cultural realities. The opening reception will take the form of a game night on Thursday, Jan. 15, from 6:30-8 p.m.
Artistic processes tied to game playing have historically attracted the avant-garde; most famously the legendary artist and chess master Marcel Duchamp. Games were intrinsic to the World War I-era Surrealists and Dadaists as well as the 1960s and 1970s anti-war Fluxus group and the New Games Foundation — the latter questioned capitalism and corporate culture by staging massive collaborative games in public parks. FREE PLAY mines this artistic genre through works that raise political awareness and question open-mindedness about contemporary issues.
Organized by Independent Curators International (ICI) in New York, FREE PLAY includes British artist David Shrigley's tragic-comic version of table tennis, "Your Parents, You, Your Wee Sister, and The Social Services," 2001; Yoko Ono's Fluxus-era, all white chess set, "Play it By Trust," 1966/2014; and Futurefarmers' meditative full-size teeter totter, "SeeSaw," 2002. Other reinvented "games" in the exhibition include Cory Arcangel's version of "Guitar Hero;" the socio-political BOMBSCOTCH, 2013, by Mary Flanagan; and Ryan Gander's unique card game, "Parallel Blackjack," 2010. Also in the exhibition and ready for play is Allan McCollum and Matt Mullican's divining game, "Your Fate," 2004. All of the works on view are functional games that visitors are free to play.
FREE PLAY was curated by Seattle-based independent curator and writer Melissa E. Feldman, a frequent contributor to Art in America, Frieze, and Aperture, among others. Feldman will present a curator's talk, "Playing in the Expanded Field: Art, Activism, and Games," on Wednesday, Feb. 25, at 7 p.m. in Room 223 of Ebert Art Center. FREE PLAY was made possible, in part, by grants from the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation and the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, and with generous support from ICI's International Forum and Board of Trustees.
The CWAM is open Tuesday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1-5 p.m. Additional information is available by phone (330-263-2388) or online.