Hide and Seek

A project by the curatorial team of OFF-Biennale 2017

Life in Gaudiopolis (The City of Joy), beyond equalling survival, took place in a threefold framework of education, play, and community building. The democratic model of the children’s republic emerged from this. Among these three cornerstones, probably play was the most important driving force: to disregard existing rules and create new ones, to suspend power relations, and to believe that the world thus created does not end at the fence. What can be the role of play in society, in resolving problems? How much play is present in today’s education, and overall, what kind of community models the current education system provides for? In what ways can society relate to children? And what do all these have to do with the crisis of democracy? By focusing on these issues, some of the works obviously land in the sphere of utopia; nonetheless, the project refrains from idealizing social models or children’s communities. The presented artworks also showcase the dark sides of perfectionist plans, and also confront those social visions that are far off from the values of Gaudiopolis. 

When art invites play and creates or rewrites the rules of a game, it allows us to rethink our relations to the order of reality by temporarily exiting it. On the one hand, it underlines the responsibility of the “game master,” that is, the artist; on the other hand, it also confronts the players with the expectations arising from “fair play.” Also in Gaudiopolis's history, responsibility is one of the timeliest momentums. By the end of the Second World War, the world as people knew it seemed to have fallen apart for good: social protocols were overwritten by power, fear, and the instinct to survive. It is from this perspective that the figure of the “game master,” the founder Gábor Sztehlo has become particularly significant for the children: the moral decision he made during the Holocaust, his personal position through his acts, the risk he took in this experimentation of establishing a micro society. 

Today, 27 years after the regime change of 1989, Europe and the world once again seems to be changing profoundly. As the project called the EU seems to be disintegrating, as new powers are taking over in many parts of the continent, inducing political tensions, wars, and human suffering, the European citizen is forced out of her comfort zone, and has to decide what values she is to act upon. What happens when an individual is confronted with a situation unscripted by social norms or protocols? How should one act in times of crisis and uncertainty, when social rules lose their relevance (gradually or suddenly) or when one has decided not to act by them anymore? Some of the works presented explore what today’s world-wide crises mean on the level of individual choices and personal lives, and what role art and artists can play in finding the ways leading out of them. 

A group exhibition with works by Zbyněk Baladrán, Johanna Billing, Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Ex-Artists’ Collective (Tamás Kaszás, Anikó Loránt), Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub, Ádám Kokesch, Eva Koťátková, Joanna Piotrowska 

individual projects and contributions by Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Sári Ember, Ferenc Gróf, Sven Johne, Szabolcs KissPál, Gergely László/Katarina Šević, Little Warsaw, Manuel Pelmuş, Slavs and Tatars, Dominika TrappPiotr Wysocki&Dominik Jałowiński

Supported by
The main cooperation partner of this year's OFF Biennale is GfZK – Museum of Contemporary Art Leipzig. The cooperation project is funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation.
Erste Stiftung