Exhibition: Play Ground, New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester, February 5 – May 8 2011
Corey Arcangel is a 32-year-old computer programmer and web geek. When he’s not playing in his latest band (the three-piece Title TK) or giving solo performances pondering the limitations of autotune for Avril Lavigne and Britney Spears, he makes gaming installations with names like Self Playing Sony Playstation 1 Bowling and hacked-up old versions of Google.
For this impulsive exhibition at New Walk, he’s offering his take on a certain Nintendo game.
Super Mario Clouds manipulates the adventures of everyone’s favourite portly plumber, removing all the graphics to leave the mere painterly subject of drifting clouds. In an hour-long video, Arcangel will be demonstrating the simplicity of repeating it in the style of a how-to daytime television show.
Interactivity is the name of the game for this exhibition, inspired by the way churches and fairgrounds preceded museums as cultural fonts for the public, although the emphasis is clearly on artists who’ve gone for the coconut shy approach.
© Brian Forrest
You can hang out in a rest area designed by Moroccan artist Hassan Hajjaj, put a bucket on your head and turn yourself into a sculpture with Austrian Erwin Wurm or leap around in Mungo Thomson’s Sky Space Bounce House, an inflatable, anarchic version of installation artist James Turrell’s more sombre concrete structures.
Berlin-based Angela Bulloch offers karaoke football chants, Marcel Duchamp’s Rotoreliefs rotate records all over the place and Swedish artist Annika Strom has made a pop soundtrack pastiche at the entrance.
Perhaps the only painter who could cope with such a melee is Bob and Roberta Smith, who rants and splutters on “Idiot Boards” in the style of a fairground raconteur and has made a palm-reading diagram revealing whether you’ll make it as an artist.
It’s all overseen from a central Ministry of Rules area, faithfully following the venue’s ethos for the show.
“We usually have to follow a series of rules – don’t touch the work, don’t run, don’t shout, don’t play,” they admit. “Don’t, in short, have fun.
“We thought it would be good to try something else – this exhibition shows contemporary artists that treat the gallery like a fairground rather than a church.”