“Nothing is wrong with anything,” said Henry Ford in 1928, when asked about the possibility of serious competition, “and I don't see any reason to believe that the present prosperity will not continue.” Henry may not have been playing games, but his reductive processes of making making cars and making profits ever more efficiently were ingenious, and certainly shifted expectations of labour and leisure. We are still playing out the consequences.
Making work and play is inventing order. How we set, contend with or circumvent rules underpins this Vienna/Sydney exhibition project.
The Austrian and Australian artists within Rules of play are diverse, and this is the first time they are assembled in the same room. The project extends conversations, shared studies and studio spaces, and collaboration over time and distance.
Rules of play draws on conceptual and perfomative processes of negotiating common rules and ludic spaces. While setting parameters for here and now, the artists refer back to what has already happened and towards a speculative reimagining what may yet be possible. Each is attentive to means of cognitive, physical and affectual labour. With the premise of play you may be implicated within the work.
For this project the artists have been asked to play by a set of rules. It's a process of trial and error, artistic research and performative solutions. You may here expect some certainty through powerpoint presentations. And with the experience of materials at hand. Or you can begin with your own live body and awareness. Look about you, observe everything, how and why, and remember what came before. Repeat more than necessary. Discuss. Through the configuration of words, the transposition of affect, try to move meaning. Think about the most incredible thing ever – that moment when you brushed fame and glamour and success – and what's now missing?
Across cultures and distance this project plots parameters of asserting relevance. Or where those rules and we fail. Such play can be considered in terms of managing risk, or as the populist theorist/financier Nassim Nicholas Taleb puts it, “a systematic program of how to live in a world we don’t understand very well.”
This Rules of play exhibition is the starting point, a series of propositions. From here the artists will together develop an exhibition and performance program for Sydney in September 2011.