Serious Play - Lessons in Learning/Unlearning: Study Sessions
Play has traditionally been understood as an activity of childhood; an essential space that allows children to learn to recognize patterns and systems within our cultures. How does the practice of play transform when it is removed from the confines of recreation and applied to the processes of artistic creation? These events embrace forms of childhood play through the use of experimentation, chance, and failure, and grant us momentary freedom from the restrictive rules and limitations that burden us in our everyday lives. BRIC is proud to present a series of public programs in conjunction with Serious Play: Translating Form, Subverting Meaning where play offers us a space to engage in the difficult issues we face in the 21st-century such as the over-saturation of digital content, overlooked forms of accessibility, and the uncomfortable lexicon of systemic oppression that afflicts African American communities.
Puzzles have long had a history as a project that gathers families, friends, coworkers, and strangers together. On Damien Davis’ large 99-piece mirrored table-top puzzle, participants are asked to work together to unpack histories of racialized language as they attempt to assemble a finalized version of the puzzle. The individual pieces are imbued with historical representations of blackness such as the cowrie shell—used in the 1500s by Europeans as currency for the exchange of West African slaves—and elements of blackface iconography. Participants are tasked with coding and decoding the racist visual language of black culture held within these shapes. Led by Davis, this community-activated puzzle provides us with a safe space to engage in the uncomfortable lexicon of invisible systems of oppression.