press release

“The Pain Game” is the title of a work by Croatian artist Mladen Stilinovic from 1977. The piece consists of a photograph of the palm of a left hand with a white cube on it, which has the word PAIN inscribed on each of its surfaces, and a printed text which reads: “Only one player, the dice is cast according to its own rhythm, the game lasts 7 minutes.” The work can be displayed next to a table on which a dice identical to the one in the photograph has been placed, along with an instruction sheet containing the rules of the game.

Taking this work as an inspiration and a starting point, the exhibition project “The Pain Game” is exploring the role of pain as a subject and as an image that has been taken and is again taking on in contemporary art production. In the late 1960s and 70s, violence and physical harm against one’s own and the bodies of others (exhibited as videos, photographs and/or performance) were mostly employed as a way to express the perception of the individual’s and its subjectivity’s repression by the state and politics. Today – and this is the initial thesis of this project – the notion of the matter has extended, and pain is not only a medium of protest and resistance, but also a way of both evoking and provoking feeling and emotion.

Just as an increasing number of many female teenagers today scratch their forearms with razorblades or knifes in their inability to express sadness, anger, aggression or rage (but also insecurity, affection or even love) in any other way, the tendency to hurt or attack the other is not only growing amongst young people. The boundaries of one’s own body, as well as the image of the other as an intact physical organism (which actually suffers real damage if intruded – life is indeed NOT a computer game) seem to become virtual, losing the direct connection between emotional and physical components of experience. Artists react to changes and there are a number of artists who express societal discomfort through pain and stress-induced processes.

“The Pain Game” explores both the continuous political implications and conscious applications of pain and the possibility of a more intuitive usage of the topic on the level of emotions and subjectivity. The show ranges from positions from the 60s to contemporary artistic production and from society as a whole to the private, creating a space full of suspense for the visitor.

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The Pain Game
Kurator: Ellen Blumenstein

Künstler: Sue de Beer, William Jones, Marlene McCarty, Michael Müller [Ingelheim], Francesc Ruiz, Ulrike Rosenbach, Mladen Stilinovic, Joep van Liefland, Geerten Verheus