April 17, 2009 - Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt - Playing the City
April 17, 2009

Playing the City

Photo: Lynn Foglesong-Derr

Playing the City
20 April – 06 May 2009

60311 Frankfurt, Germany
phone: (+49) 69 29 98 82-0
fax: (+49) 69 29 98 82-240
welcome [​at​] schirn.de



How does the public participate in political dialogue? What constitutes public opinion? What do people understand “public space” to mean? The significance of the social plays a central role in the discourse on art. Concepts such as participation, collaboration, the social turn, and community-based art have clearly influenced both the production and the reception of art. The exhibition project Playing the City reveals public space to be a collective, free, and designable space. From 20 April to 6 May 2009, twenty-three international artists, such as Ulf Aminde, Dara Friedman, Dora García, Cezary Bodzianowski, and Sharon Hayes, will turn central Frankfurt into the site of countless activities and situations, ranging from performances by way of installations to “guerrilla actions” that involve the audience in a wide variety of ways. Playing the City can also be followed on the Internet, as a digital extension of public space: the Web page www.playingthecity.de—created especially for the show—brings together all the video, text, and visual materials, an exhibition calendar, and a blog. It is thus a catalog and exhibition forum in one. An office and exhibition headquarters has been set up in one of the Schirn’s gallery space where the exhibition team can do its work in public: fine-tuning the Web site, answering questions about the exhibition, and organizing, commenting on, and documenting all the actions. In addition, works by Rirkrit Tiravanija and Nasan Tur, among others, and videos of the actions that have already taken place will be shown in the gallery as a film loop.

The idea that Playing the City realizes on various levels is a continuation of the ideas of important avant-garde movements of the twentieth century. Already at the beginning of the twentieth century, the Dada movement rejected “conventional” art and art forms as well as bourgeois ideals, taking instead to the street. Movements such as the radical leftist intellectuals and artists from the circle around Guy Debord’s Internationale situationniste operated on the line of intersection between art and politics, architecture and reality from the late 1950s onward. The Situationists developed, among other things, a concept of the “theoretical and practical production of situation” in which life itself was supposed to become a work of art. In the 1960s the Fluxus movement proposed the maxim of art and life as a unity and thus considered the diverse processes of everyday life to be as relevant as the banal. In parallel with that movement, action art, happenings, and performance art strove to bring art and the reality of life closer together. Especially when art was combined with politics—which along with the employment of the body represented an important strand of action art—collaboration and the incorporation of the public played important roles.

Since the 1990s, under new social conditions, a practice of art based on participation has become increasing important, in parallel with an increase in the interactive and collaborative media forms on the Internet and the realities of the nomadism of contemporary globalism. The viewers are integrated into the production of art works in many ways, and the division between traditional roles of the artist as producer and the audience as recipients are being broken down as much as possible. This has produced diverse forms of interactive, cooperative, and interdisciplinary approaches, though they resist clear categorization. In L’esthétique relationnelle from 1998 (translated as Relational Aesthetics), the French theorist Nicolas Bourriaud developed a fundamental theory of these art forms, which he subsumed under the concept of “relational art.” He sees utopian potential in their developing of alternative spaces in which other forms of social relationships, critique, and sociability can be tried out. By opening up a new possibility for communication through common activities, relational art can counter social alienation.

The exhibition project Playing the City offers a current look into the wide-ranging varieties of participatory and collaborative art and is itself an experiment. As a clandestine “guerrilla tactic,” spectacular surprise, or temporary place of encounter, it makes central Frankfurt its own. In several of the works Playing the City, production and reception are closely connected or even identical. Nearly all the works of this exhibition project will be realized within a limited time frame. When the project is over, the Web site will also be taken off the Internet and hence the trace of the event erased—at least to the extent new paths through the Internet have not be established.

WEB SITE, CATALOG, AND CURRENT SCHEDULE at www.playingthecity.de

The online library makes available texts by Guy Debord, Claire Bishop, Nicolas Bourriaud, Christian Höller, Jean-Luc Nancy, Erving Goffman, Joshua Decter, Grant Kester, Stella Rollig, and others, to be read online or downloaded.

List of artists: Artists Anonymous, A Wall Is A Screen, Ulf Aminde, Cezary Bodzianowski, Robert Ladislas Derr, Dara Friedman, Dora García, Wiebke Grösch and Frank Metzger, Yolande Harris, Sharon Hayes, Tony Hunt and Christian Pantzer, Allan Kaprow, Leopold Kessler, Mads Lynnerup, MOMUS, Roman Ondák, Raumlabor, Bernhard Schreiner, Tino Sehgal, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Nasan Tur, Silke Wagner, Elizabeth Wurst

DIRECTOR: Max Hollein

CURATOR: Matthias Ulrich (Schirn)
OPENING HOURS: variable. SCHIRN: Tuesday, Friday–Sunday 10 AM–7 PM, Wednesday and Thursday 10 AM–10 PM.
INFORMATION: www.schirn.de
PRESS CONTACT: Dorothea Apovnik, phone: (+49-69) 29 98 82-118, fax: (+49-69) 29 98 82-240, e-mail: dorothea.apovnik@schirn.de, www.schirn.de (texts and images for download under PRESS).

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