Push Play at Hedreen Gallery, Seattle University, Seattle, WA
From January 12, 2017 – March 4, 2017
Push Play. Curated by Melissa E. Feldman
“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, Push 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 Push Play have mined the significance of games, reinventing them to create experiences that often involve the viewer and reflect 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 of power 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.