The Playground

October 2021- March 2022
The Playground is the first exhibition of a new curatorial format within the I’M Firenze Digest digital platform. For its pilot episode, it comes in the shape of a double-solo show, created through the notion of games in human culture.

The exhibition, curated by Elizaveta Reznikova, brings together two visual artists, Alexandra Konopleva and Chiara Muracciole, who accepted the curatorial challenge to play, over a period of more than two months, the Surrealist game cadavre exquis, updating its possibilities using 3D digital sculptures as the main medium.

Curatorial text by Elizaveta Reznikova

The rules of The Playground are simple and suggest no losers or winners. In contrast, the title highlights the idea that the artists playing the game are sharing the same space, the same roles, and the same experience. Cadavre exquis, also known as exquisite corpse, is a method by which words or images are assembled collectively. Each collaborator adds to a composition in sequence, either by following a rule or by being allowed to see only the end of what the previous person contributed. The name is derived from a phrase that resulted when Surrealists first played the game, “Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau” (“The exquisite corpse shall drink the new wine.”) 

The idea of using 3D images as the main medium stemmed from the belief that the century-and-a-half long dominance of lens-based media in art came to an end in the twentieth century, and that the production of art has now returned to the paradigm that existed before the 1850s, or before the spread of photography. Today images are once again produced by skilled craftsmen, who manipulate reality using graphics and video editing software. This expansion reveals new layers of reality behind seemingly trivial images, and new characters emerge. The exhibition alludes to an extended vision of what a game is and the role it plays in the understanding of civilizations, culture and intellectual activity. 

Human culture appears to arise and unfold like a game. Play is an essential part of human life, and human culture is generally unthinkable without a playful element. The first to draw attention to this was Johan Huizinga in his book Homo Ludens (1938), stating that even in a person’s worship of religion there is always a playful element: “play is older than culture, for culture, however inadequately defined, always presupposes human society, and animals have not waited for a man to teach them their playing.” 
The concept of play covers a very wide and diverse area, the outskirts of which are shrouded in fog and uncertainty. It is difficult to say whether every game should have its rules, whether every game, apart from the winners, should also have some losers, and so on. A game is an activity that is free from utilitarian and practical goals and it is unproductive, without results, containing a goal in itself. 

The attitude of play and seriousness always remains unstable. The game is constantly turning into seriousness and seriousness into a game. The game kidnaps us from the power of everyday seriousness, which manifests itself primarily in the burden of labour, in the struggle for power. This abduction returns us to an even deeper level of seriousness, to a bottomless, joyful, tragicomic seriousness, in which we contemplate ourselves as if in a mirror. The intensity of the game cannot be explained through any biological analysis. The game confirms the special nature of humanity in the world. Animals can play, which means that they are something more than just mechanisms, and as people play, they are something more than just rational beings, because playing goes beyond reasonable activity.
The artworks on display translate the artists’ imagination through the playing environment. As a curator, I have decided to give the artists full freedom in the creation of their artworks, as in my opinion there are only two spheres in the world where humans can truly express themselves: art and games. The combination of the two allows us to enjoy a visual representation of the artists’ consciousness and propels us towards an understanding of the mind’s eye in a digital era. 

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