The Playful Turn

Deadline: 16/05/2021  |  Published: 12/03/2021  |  City: Shoreditch, London  |  Region: London  |  Country: United Kingdom  |  Degrees of Freedom

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An exhibition exploring play and playfulness in art practices.

Real life hasn’t exactly come up to scratch over the past few months. We are all waiting for it to take a playful turn.

People play, as do most animals. Dogs and cats, dolphins and chimpanzees play. Fish, reptiles and even some molluscs have been observed to play.

Play is part seduction, part combat.

Being playful is a mood position, an orientation towards pleasure.

Play manifests itself in the process of being played so it is forever interruptible, forever unfinished. And how liberating is that!!

Play is by choice, so it is life enhancing. 

Play builds its own world, makes up and enforces its own rules.

Play has no limits apart from the limits it sets itself.

It explores the possibilities of the mind: through mind games as well as physical action.

Play can be a masquerade, a carnival, a harlequinade – adopting forms of real life promiscuously but using them for its own purposes.

This project is an exploration of playfulness in art practices. Art can purport to be about many things….the truth, the sublime, aesthetic pleasure… this project asks the question: where is the space for playfulness in your art practice? Where would you locate that which you do just for the joy and delight it brings? Where are the possibilities for creation for its own sake, outside the bounds of convention, in your art practice? Where is the place you go to for reflection and recovery? Which objects or processes constitute your “art playthings”? How does your audience find pleasure in its encounter with your art?

Degrees of Freedom welcome submissions in all mediums, including digital and multimedia. We aim to create a Festival of Play and Playfulness with lots of activity and movement so participative and performative works are particularly welcome.

Key dates

Final proposals or images and descriptions of actual works should be received by us by 16th May. We will aim to get back to you with our decision by 30th May.

Delivery of works/materials will be 6-8pm Sun 27th June

Set up will be Monday 28th June

Exhibition Tuesday 29th June to Sunday 4th July

Private View(to be confirmed nearer the time) Thursday 1st July

Take down Sunday 4th July 5-7pm

Participating artists will be required to contribute to the gallery rota for welcoming visitors during opening hours.   

In order to meet our obligation to provide a safe environment for artists and visitors in this Covid era everyone will have to adhere to safe practice guidelines current at the time of the exhibition. There is no fee for submission or participation.


Contact the curator
When is the deadline?
Sunday 16th May 2021
How many works can I submit?
When are the delivery & set up dates?
Delivery on Sunday 27th June, 6-8pm
Set up on Monday 28th June
When do I need to collect my work?
Sunday 4th July, 5-7pm
How much does it cost?
Are there payments to artists?
Sorry no
Is there a private view / opening?
Depends on Covid restrictions at the time. If there are no restrictions on indoor numbers, there will be a PV on Thursday 1st July, 6-9pm. If there are restrictions on numbers we may have one or more mini-PVs and limit numbers. However at this stage we cannot commit to anything.
What are the exhibition opening hours?
To be decided. Probably 3-7pm.
Does the location have disabled access?
Sorry, no.
Do I need to be present?
Participating artists will be required to contribute to the gallery rota for welcoming visitors during opening hours.
How do you decide on the proposals?
We consider(1) how creatively a proposed work approaches the theme we are exploring in the exhibition, (2) the perspective an artist brings, (3) the extent to which a work contributes to the diversity of ideas and expressions we want to see represented in the show . We particularly welcome participative, performative and live works alongside wall hung works and installations.

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