Can playing be a political gesture?

with a small p

Delfina Foundation invites six artists to explore how mechanisms inherent to children and adult’s games – association, transposition, transformation, exaggeration, disguise, appropriation, and interaction, can be used as a trickster to reveal absurdities and expose topical conditions.

A short season of talks, interventions, exhibitions and new commissions, with a small p affirms the unique contribution of ludic expression to the creative process. Participating artists build on the individual relations and interactions contained within games and recreation, to explore ideas around communication, learning and change. The rules of the artists’ playful artefacts aim to reflect or comment upon the social and cultural structures within which the “players” evolve.

Seeking to answer one simple question: “can playing be a political gesture?”, the audience was invited to explore global perspectives on the relevance, and legitimacy of using the seductive interactions and accessible language associated with game-playing, recreation, and leisure, in order to produce socio-political critiques. Whilst directly acknowledging the privileged position occupied by Western artists working in this area, with a small p explores ludicity as a necessary resourcefulness in situations where, like in Halabja, Northern Iraq, the act of game-playing integrates the symbolic realm, and connotes basic human rights and freedoms.


Playground Battlefield Artist Talks: Part I
13 November, 19:00 – 20:00
Jeni Snell in conversation with Barry Curtis

Playground Battlefield Artist Talks: Part II: Halabja Adventure Playground
24 November, 19:00 – 20:00
International resident artist Ixone Sadaba expands on her practice, which explores the body as a location of inner and outer conflict, to reflect upon game-playing as a an essential condition of the formation of collective identities. Following her two-week residency in Northern Iraq, Sadaba gives account of her experience of the Halabja Adventure Playground project, led by photographer Tom Carrigan, funded by the Kurdish Human Rights Project and Spring Studios.

Installation from 17 – 21 November
Daily performance: 18:00-20:00
Inspired by her experience of growing up and playing amidst redundant military buildings in the Island of Guernsey, Jeni Snell’s MI-R-US (installation-performance) is a multi-piece wooden structure, which uses the tactile language of modular construction games such as Playpax.Reverting into a state of play, the audience was invited to take part in an imaginary nation-building exercise, and build a fabulous city with the artist.

Rear Window
27 November and 2 December, 18:00 – 19:00
Andy Field is a theatre maker and writer. Rear Window (intervention) is a chillingly exiting social experiment, drenched in Hitchcockian suspense and rooted in Stanley Milgram’s cynical spirit of experimentation. Inviting participants to test their courage and their resistance to peer pressure, Field dared the audience to find out how long it takes before one intervenes against the status quo…

A Rather Trivial Pursuit
27 November and 2 December, 19:30 – 20:30
Yara El-Sherbini is a London based artist whose playful and multi-disciplinary approach to art-making uses popular culture and humour to make engaging and accessible works. With A Rather Trivial Pursuit, El-Sherbini invited the audience to participate in a board-game, which leisurely explores life, Art and relational aesthetics.