Kinderspiel – Further Information

Johanna Wölfing, Mathias Wölfing, Nora Gantert

iRRi ART at First Floor, Nanjing, March 30th, 2013.

The project „Kinderspiel//小意思“ is part of the first exhibition series at the First Floor in Nanjing. We started the series “Introduction to Art” on May 9th 2013, having a show to the topic every second Saturday. The topic and title “Introduction to Art” is taken from the text book which is used in Chinese art universities all over the country to give a basic understanding of art to the students. The book is used since the 80s and is a mandatory class every art student has to take.

About the exhibition

We chose to show a video screening on which the visitors can see a split screen, showing three hands simultaneously peeling mandarins. In the entrance area of the small exhibition space we span a web of woolen threads, giving the room a new shape with totally simply means. In the inside of an storage room inside the art space is the center of the web. Additionally we showed videos of heavy construction machinery on three 5” mini screens to re-size this huge machines to a child’s toy. The mandarin peel, the woolen balls and the mandarins complete with the mandarin drink at the exhibition opening the overall concept.

We played with the ideas promoted in the “Introduction to Art”, stating that art is something with big meaning, something divine, something only certain people are allowed to do. With this exhibition we wanted to show in Nanjing, that art can be playful and that it helps us seeing normal ordinary things in a different way.

Questions about the project „Kinderspiel“, First Floor, 2013

The following questions and answers are part of our working process at First Floor. Following every event the artist has to answer the questions of the other members of First Floor.

Why did you chose the title “Kinderspiel”?

There is this German saying, with which we are all very familiar: “This is a children’s game!” meaning something that can be easily done, something that can be done by everyone without special knowledge or preparation. We chose this title because we think that art and making art should be accessible to everyone. It should not be elite or always committed to a bigger idea. We think that creative thinking is a gift everyone one of us has, and that everyone has the right to articulate their thoughts and/or produce art with which means ever seem appropriate.

What is the connection between the different installations?

The overall concept includes the three installations: the mandarin peeling videos, the thread installation, the construction site videos, as well as the mandarin drink, the balls of wool and the mandarins in the art space. The mandarin installation is the heart of the curatorial concept.
With this installation we shift the focus from the question WHAT to the question HOW in the sense of an open play with material, social conventions and artistic concepts.

The leftover peel persists as a witness of the how and gives the scenic setting of the exhibition. Their omnipresence touches all our senses: The peel in color and smell, the drink in color and taste, the video in color, action and sound.

The thread installation is a child’s game often played in Germany. Transforming the room to something different till you can’t walk any more so you have to to climb and squeeze to get to the other side of the room. It is a playful examination of space and our spatial experience. The colors of the threads and the sound from within the core of the net refer to the mandarin installation.

Here in Nanjing we did what we did as kids, we used the messy surrounding, we used all the ordinary stuff and spun the web around everything. In the storage room we had the sound of peeling mandarins, referring to the video outside, and referring to the simplicity of doing something very normal.

The demolition videos on the mini screens build the connection to our childhood without changing the content. The viewer can choose the size of the displayed by standing close to it or farther away.
The quintessence of the exhibition is the simple statement, that art should more be treated as a child’s play. We understand art as play with social and artistic ideas to alter the viewer’s awareness of their habitual surroundings.

Why did you choose mandarins?

Because of the performance like character of peeling a mandarin, the well-known material and the internationality of this fruit. The mandarin as subject is qualified cause of its publicity, but has no importance in itself.

Why is the thread installation inside and outside the art space?

As the core of this piece is the visualization of space, the question about inside and outside space gains of importance.

Why did you chose the demolition videos? Is it meant in particular for the Chinese situation?

The topic of this installation is not the demolition of buildings. We wanted to think about the games we played as children, the fascination these huge machines had for us as kids and still have as grownups. They look like metal animals from a distant future or a remote past.

The essence of the piece is the heavy construction machinery, which through the small scale projection becomes alienated and resized to a child’s toy. What we want to focus on by presenting this projection is the personal perception of the appearance of a digger as such and its alternation from childhood on.