INTRODUCTION

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How does the public participate in political dialogue? What constitutes public opinion? What do people understand “public space” to mean? The significance of the social plays a central role in the discourse on art. Concepts such as participation, collaboration, the social turn, and community-based art have clearly influenced both the production and the reception of art.

The exhibition project Playing the City reveals public space to be a collective, free, and designable space. From 20 April to 6 May 2009, twenty-three international artists, such as Ulf Aminde, Dara Friedman, Dora GarcĂ­a, Cezary Bodzianowski, and Sharon Hayes, will turn central Frankfurt into the site of countless activities and situations, ranging from performances by way of installations to “guerrilla actions” that involve the audience in a wide variety of ways.

Playing the City can also be followed on the Internet, as a digital extension of public space: the Web page www.playingthecity.de—created especially for the show—brings together all the video, text, and visual materials, an exhibition calendar, and a blog. It is thus a catalog and exhibition forum in one. An office and exhibition headquarters has been set up in one of the Schirn’s gallery space where the exhibition team can do its work in public: fine-tuning the Web site, answering questions about the exhibition, and organizing, commenting on, and documenting all the actions. In addition, works by Rirkrit Tiravanija and Nasan Tur, among others, and videos of the actions that have already taken place will be shown in the gallery as a film loop.


This text comes from the press release for an event that took place recently in Frankfurt, called Playing the City. The release goes on to mention that the event is a “continuation of the ideas of important avant-garde movements of the twentieth century” and cites Dada, the Situationist International and Fluxus as being amongst these forebears. We’ll be considering the ambitions of this event, and reflecting on the use of viewing actions like these through the lens of ‘art’.


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