Homo Ludens (Man at play)

Curated by Roisin Bohan

Launch 11 January 2018, 6 - 8pm
Open 12 - 27 January 2018


Exhibiting Artists Daire O'Shea, Cará Donaghey, Irene Whyte, Isabel English, Margot Galvin



The title of this exhibition is a term coined by historian J. Huizinga in 1938 in his book "Homo Ludens", meaning a species of people of whom all activity is considered ‘play'. This species inhabited New Babylon, a future utopian city envisaged by Dutch artist Constant between 1956 and 1974. In New Babylon, Homo Ludens were able to be their creative, imaginative selves, freed from labour by the development of automated systems. Here, the inhabitants were in control of their environment, able to change it to suit their needs, moods, and behaviour through the use of "moveable architectural components such as walls, floors, staircases... colour, light [and] texture..".


Constant later gave up on his belief of the imminence of New Babylon and it's inhabitants, stating that something of mass disruption would have to happen before such a city could materialize. Yet, Homo Sapiens constantly seek utopia through the continuous construction and remodeling of our Cities and infrastructure, through playing with "the possibilities existing cities offer...[and]...plans for future cities". We can see this in Dublin, currently, for example, with the extension of the Luas and plans for the new College Green Plaza, and before with such developments such as the rejuvenation of Temple Bar as a Cultural Quarter.


In this exhibition, five artists are brought together whom each play with architectural elements such as the inhabitants of New Babylon. Daire O'Shea and Isabel English's sculptural installations act as extensions of the building and the gallery itself; it's windows reflected in Daire's polycarbonate reflective surfaces and steel frames, it's walls echoed in Isabel's large wooden structures. Isabel's objects are left as evidence for what could be described as unrealised plans to some sort of Utopia while Daire's Framing Devices segregate the space into a series of thresholds, implicating the movement of the viewer within the gallery. On the surrounding walls, Black Church Print Studio members, Cará Donaghey, Irene Whyte and Margot Galvin will present 2D print works. Constant envisaged New Babylon as a labyrinth, disrupting the Homo Ludens from getting directly from A to B, but instead forcing them to find new pathways. To view Cara's complete work viewers must navigate the sculptures within the gallery, creating their own pathway through the exhibition. Using photography, Irene explores the light within the space, using it to activate her work. Margot's work looks outside of the gallery space, deconstructing the architectural surrounds of the gallery through her own physical engagement or experience of being within these particular spaces.