June 16 – September 16, 2018
ICA’s NextNew series is a biannual exhibition program that presents the work of emerging artists and/or emerging art practices.
When playing a board game or video game, one might experience a range of emotions, from elation when advancing towards a finish line, to a sense of gratification from beating a competitor, to a feeling of anger when your strategy goes awry. Immersing wholeheartedly into the rules and experiences of play is what Dutch historian and play theorist Johan Huizinga refers to as the “magic circle,” a zone where players temporarily suspend disbelief and adopt the qualities of the game space, disconnecting from the realities of the everyday world. Games often provide a moment of respite from the “real world” and allow the player to escape into a fantasy.
The eight artists in NextNewGames create work within this alternative space. The set of board games, video pieces, and new media works consider our current social, political, and cultural climate, creating a porous relationship between the imaginary land of the game space and that of the real world.
Characterizing the art world with an air of parody are works by Sioux City-based artist Charles Bass who developed a series of free, participatory games, which comment on the quirks of the opaque art world. COLL.EO (San Francisco- and Milan-based collaborative Colleen Flaherty and Matteo Bittanti) re-enact seminal 1960-70s contemporary art performances and interventions in “Liberty City,“ through the action and adventure game Grand Theft Auto.
NextNewGames artists also invite players to embody different perspectives through single- and multi-player games. Lark VCR and Porpentine Charity Heartscape’s elaborate online game invites players to treat their trauma as if it were a virtual pet. Colorado-based artist Rafael Fajardo presents two contrasting games that simulate the realities of crossing the US-Mexico border at El Paso-Ciudad Juarez. Sam Vernon engages local community members in a game of hangman and creates a visually cacophonous installation with the resulting documentation from this age-old game. Considering the relationship of communities today and in the future, Berkeley-based artist Asma Kazmi constructs a hypnotic, sensorial experience of the religious site of Makkah and documents the rapid changes to the sacred site. San Francisco-based artist Scott Kildall questions what it might mean for the moon to colonize the earth in his site-specific scavenger hunt at the ICA.
These artists move away from the dichotomy of winning or losing. They collectively subvert and interrupt the modes of operating within a game while reflecting on how these game spheres serve as mirrors to our current society: how do we think about cooperation and negotiation? What does it mean to lose or win? Where are points of resolution and conflict? What is your next move?