Connected \\ January 17, 2018
Driving through a car wash can certainly be a striking visual experience. Artist Lara Favaretto recognized even greater potential for amusement. Her sculpture, Simple Couples, features seven pairs of spinning car-wash brushes of different sizes, moving in a mesmerizing mix of color and rhythm.
Chances are you many never look at a car wash the same way again.
Pedro Reyes, meanwhile, has taken 6,700 guns confiscated by the Mexican government and transformed them into working musical instruments, similarly identifying uses for objects beyond the obvious. Martin Creed filled a room with pink balloons and invites people to walk (‘frolic’ may be the better word) through them to reach the exit on the other side. His installation asks us to consider the question: Is wasting time really wasting time?
Organized by PEM, PlayTime is the first major thematic exhibition exploring the role of play in contemporary art and culture with works by 18 leading contemporary artists, including video, sculpture, photographs and interactive experiences. The show reveals how many behaviors that are essential to the creative process — risk-taking, exploration, questioning and curiosity — are all encouraged by the act of play.
Starting in the 1990s, PEM Curator of the Present Tense Trevor Smith became aware of an increasing number of contemporary artists playing with the concept of play and in the process offering new opportunities to redefine what the word even meant.
“Play is no longer on the margins anymore,” said Smith. “Play is a catalyst for creativity. Play is where you get to make up the rules and learn how to negotiate and resolve conflict. Play is where you understand that you do have the power to change the ways things are done. To me, play is fundamentally about human empowerment.”
Nick Cave, still and detail from Bunny Boy, 2012. Video, approximately 14 minutes. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.
Making the claim that play is a powerful subject for artistic production and social critique, the exhibition features not only artists who employ game structures but also those who embrace playful behaviors to generate their work and encourage participation and critical dialogue through play.