Friday, 14 December 2007

Play People

Allan Kaprow 'The Blurring of Art and Life', 1993

Kaprow's use of real life experiences as 'ready-made' art objects, was his way of exploring the meaning of life. Influenced by the American philosopher John Dewey, Kaprow stated that 'Art is not separate from experience'
and that it's environment 'is a process of interaction'.

“Such consciousness of what we do and feel each day, its relation to others’ experience and to nature around us, becomes in a real way the performance of living. And the very process of paying attention to this continuum is poised on the threshold of art performance.” (196)

Kaprow's interpretative approach is experimental and participatory. He offers up situations/operations/structures/feedback/learning as inventive methods of art making. The comparison to how children play and experience the world is apparent, as they mirror, test and probe human responses and behaviours. This idea of 'playing' and 'testing' can be seen in the recent work at the Tate Modern by Carsten Holler 'Test Site', where the audience was invited to slide. Roger Callois in 'Man, Play and Games' writes about play (and in this case, sliding) 'producing delight and overcoming fear'.

The Play People are a model of an approach to art-making and to the Lab. We can see the Lab as a test site where we can play with ideas of practice and theory - testing and interrogating. They also represent a community or collaboration, just as we are in our group, with each character bringing their own individual histories and abilities. Finally, as Ola pointed out, there is an obsessive quality to our approach to art practice for many of us, with games or hobbies experienced in early childhood taking shape into personality traits and agency in later life.

I would like to add Allan Kaprow's 5 definitions to artwork, for us to discuss where we may situate ourselves, or in fact, if we can work across them all...

1. work within recognizable art modes and present the work in recognizable art contexts
2. work in unrecognizable, i.e., nonart, modes but present the work in recognizable art contexts
3. work in recognizable art modes but present the work in nonart contexts
4. work in nonart modes but present the work as art in nonart contexts
5. work in nonart modes and nonart contexts but cease to call the work art, retaining instead the private consciousness that sometimes it may be art, too (175)

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