PLAY – Petr Nikl’s unique project at Prague’s Mánes Gallery
A unique show on at Prague’s Mánes Gallery is continuing to attract visitors like no other, the latest collaboration between respected artist and performer Petr Nikl and dozens of contributing artists. Called PLAY, the show invites visitors of all ages, from children to seniors to complete, destroy, co-author or interact with existing installations, which range from musical sculptures to piles of found objects that can be arranged and rearranged anyway you like. Radio Prague caught up with the artist earlier this week and takes a closer look at PLAY in this week’s Arts.
“The original inspirations for PLAY were the kind of interactive installations you find at natural science museums, where you have rooms where you can experiment with natural wonders or the laws of physics. First, you try things out and later you learn how they work. Here, I wanted to provide a kind of manual for the arts, to allow people to try different things. The other important aspect is that people gather and communicate together. Through the pieces, through the instruments, through objects, they form a dialogue and become conspirators and co-authors of a certain atmosphere, affecting multiple senses.”
“We wrote on the poster that the object should be able to fit into your pocket so that there would be a unification of size. The pieces are not huge so they could all be integrated into the visual landscape. We didn’t want people to bring in bits of furniture or old tricycles or whatever. There is a web of ‘catches’ to add and attach objects to the growing piece and the main part is the wall – a cross between some kind of Wailing Wall and peoples’ imagination.”
“We had an original project in the past which took as its goal to help children in orphanages or children’s homes, those who have very limited opportunities, brought up in a collective atmosphere, often without close guidance in some respects. The idea was to have projects where interactive works would spark their imagination, allow them to explore in ways they were not used to. PLAY is similar in this respect: we are all to a degree influenced in our behavior, even manipulated. Schools play a role and can break early and natural creativity. The idea is to broaden your fantasy and creative horizons. If you aren’t at all creative in your thinking, you become only a puppet easily used by someone else.”
“Above, is the chaotic metaphor of bubbling life, of eruptions and vegetation, a jungle of interaction. Below, there is also that, but there the experience should be more soothing, more calm. On the lower floor the objects are already complete. There are light and sound installations but how you can interact is fixed. You can’t change their basic sound or design. Above, is animation, everything is mixed. Below, pieces or musical objects have their own space and it’s more individual. On the lower floor there are also workshops, seminars, film projections and concerts.”
PLAY continues at Mánes until the end of January 2011 and it may well be that you or your children will never look quite the same at other exhibitions. But Petr Nikl suggests there is a time and place for everything and points out one aspect often forgotten, is how we view individual gallery spaces over time.
“The first time I really saw something similar was at a show I did back in 2000 at the Rudolfinum called Hnízdo her and it was there that I first saw adults forget themselves. I was shocked by their energy, how far they went. That was very interesting and from that I learned a lot.”
Photo: Ondřej Petrlík, Hynek Zlatník, Martin Pavala