As humans, we have an innate instinct to play. Whether it be Fifa, LEGO or imaginary tea sets, who can deny a good 'ol game of something with friends or family.
In an upcoming exhibition at the White Cube in London's Bermondsey, 'play' is the focus. Presenting new works by Mexican artist Damián Ortega (b. 1967) in the South Galleries, Play Time consists of large-scale installation, sculpture and two-dimensional works focusing on the themes of chance, game play and systems of knowledge – such as cosmology and genealogy.
Taking its title from French director Jacques Tati's 1967 comedy film, the exhibition will explore context as content and how, in an age of digitised information, it is still the accidents and imperfections that can hold meaning. Ortega returns to key materials such as concrete and clay to investigate the limits, possibilities, and potential for disruption within them.
Time as a material structure is a prevalent theme within the exhibition and is explored in a trio of large-scale works displaying the interior of a wrist watch. The intricate sculptures, titled Construction time, History of time and Deconstructing time (all 2017), are typical of Ortega’s mischievous process of transformation. A further sculpture inspired by Eadweard Muybridge questions the notion of dissected time, with 24 life-size images of a naked woman staggered like a set of dominos waiting to fall within the gallery. Each image represents one of the 24 frames per second of a standard 35mm film, presenting a continuum of past, present and future within a single space.
The exhibition also displays a series of spherical and elliptical forms created from layers of paper taken from a 1975 version of Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopedic Geodes (2017) are displayed on plinths and appear to be geological specimens which have been cut in half to reveal their compressed, interior construction. Other works include an installation titled Reproductive Process (2017), which explores the genetic ‘tragedy’ of haemophilia within the British Royal Family.
Play Time runs from 27 September – 12 November 2017. Find out more at whitecube.com.
Main image: Damián Ortega, Percentual constellation 2017. Fired glazed clay from Zacatecas. © Damián Ortega. Photo © White Cube (Ben Westoby)