Past exhibition

About Playing. An exhibition by the Künstlerhaus Schloss Balmoral, Bad Ems

12.02.2023 – 09.04.2023

Play is a creative, profoundly human process. In the same way that children begin to understand the world through play, adults also succeed in understanding their environment anew with freedom and leisure. Great inventions and ideas are often the result of playful coincidences. In particular, artists who follow the often-cited postulate of the ‘functionlessness’ of art create works in free play and with the inclusion of chance, which – like a child – open up the world to the viewer in a new or at least different way. The cultural historian Johan Huizinga argues that all forms of culture have developed out of play.

Artists such as Jean Tinguely (1925–1991), Niki de Saint Phalle (1930–2002), John Cage (1912–1992), Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968), Cindy Sherman (b. 1954), and Jonathan Meese (b. 1970) have dealt intensively with non-conformist play, emphasising the emotional, the accidental, and sometimes the seemingly naïve.

The motto of the year 2022/23 at Schloss Balmoral in Bad Ems was ‘Playing’. The concepts developed by the scholarship holders and translated into artistic works are now presented in a group exhibition at the Ludwig Museum Koblenz. The participating artists include Maryam Aghaalikhani, Giles Bailey, Clara Cornu, Sofia Duchovny, Simone Eisele, Florian Glaubitz, David Hahlbrock, Youngzoo Im, Martín La Roche & Mirthe Berentsen, Theresa Lawrenz, Constanza Mendoza, Susanne Schmitt, Lena Trost, Soetkin Verstegen, Viron Erol Vert, and Eleni Wittbrodt.

More than 200 artists from all over the world had applied for the scholarships in Bad Ems. In making their selection, the jury sought to explore current trends in art production, particularly performative, participatory, and communicative aspects. The focus was on exploring different forms, strategies, and effects of artistic games. The term ‘games’ encompasses a wide range of actions and processes involving experimentation and chance, interaction and participation, and the creation and modification of rules.

The works created during the scholarship period demonstrate the benefits of play for art and society. The exhibits are born out of a distinctively experimental spirit, the most delicate sensibilities and boldest ideas of the artists. Visitors can let themselves be carried away by the cheerfulness and openness inherent in the theme, as well as by the unconventional attitudes towards life, society, and the present. This opens up the possibility of allowing a playful dramaturgy into our life plans, as well as the insight that ‘people make their own history’, as the social scientist and professor at the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK) Hans-Jürgen Arlt writes, adding that ‘it is not eternal cycles, but rather possibilities of progress and decisions that have to be made time and again by individuals that determine the course of things. […] In this way, what has always been commonplace in games has found its way into everyday life: the possibility to decide and to change the course of events with this or that move, to have room for manoeuvre, to take a risk. To be able to influence success and failure.’

The exhibition has been conceived by Lotte Dinse (former director of the Schloss Balmoral artist residency programme) and Agnes Schofield (acting director of the Schloss Balmoral artist residency programme) in collaboration with the curatorial fellow Roger Rohrbach. It is accompanied by a supporting programme of performances and curatorial talks, as well as by a catalogue that will be published by Salon Verlag, Cologne in the course of the exhibition and will include a contribution by the social scientist Prof. Dr. Hans-Jürgen Arlt of the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK).


Exhibiting artists are:

Maryam Aghaalikhani:

Giles Bailey:             

Clara Cornu:            

Sofia Duchovny:     

Simone Eisele:        

Viron Erol Vert:      

Florian Glaubitz:     

David Hahlbrock:   

Martin La Roche:   

Theresa Lawrenz:  

Constanza Mendoza:

Roger Rohrbach:    

Susanne Schmitt:   

Lena Trost:               

Soetkin Verstegen:

Eleni Wittbrodt:     

Youngzoo Im:         

Künstlerhaus Schloss Balmoral

Künstlerhaus Schloss Balmoral


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