“Play is a natural phenomenon that has guided the course of the world from its beginnings. It is evident in the shaping of matter, in the organization of matter into living structures, and int he social behaviour of human beings … Every game has its rules that set it apart from the surrounding world of reality and establish its own standards of value.” (M. Eigen – R. Winkler, Laws of the Game, Princeton University Press, 1981)

“The meaning of play is playing itself. Play is the building block of our worldview, enjoyable focus on and a talent to intervene in the course of events. Play is the creative construction and operation of the rules that interpret and reproduce the laws of the world; it is the acceptance of the organisational potentials inherent in forms, rhythm, tension, competition and chance. We feel free when playing and the world expands around us. Human thinking, which created the world, the sum of all cultures, including all forms of science and the arts, can be seen as a big and universal game with many components. We are born into some layer of this game, but it is up to each individual which particular pockets they want to wriggle themselves into. Each individual can explore the rules of the game, can experience it, and can be part of another world built together in the game with the other players.” (Unknown Central-European author from the 21st century)

“Play brings and releases. It engages. It fascinates and enchants. And it is filled with the two noblest qualities that people are able to perceive and express: it is full of rhythm and harmony. (…)

Whether we want it or not, we get to know the Spirit through play. Because play is not matter, regardless of its essence. (…) It is only the boundless power of the Spirit that can elevate play into the domain of the Possible, Thought-provoking and Comprehensible. (…)

We need a metaphor to convey an abstract concept, and there is a pun behind every metaphor. This is how humanity created expressions about Existence again and again – a second, composed world besides nature. (…)

The element of play is so deeply rooted in the essence of poetry, and every poetic form is so inextricably linked to the structure of play that this internal connection can be called indissoluble. The words play and poetry virtually lose their autonomous meanings. This is applicable to an even greater extent to the connection between play and music. (…)

The case is quite different with the plastic arts. The very fact of their being bound to matter and to the limitations of form inherent in it, is enough to forbid them absolutely free play and deny them the flight into the ethereal spaces open to music and poetry.” (Johan Huizinga, HOMO LUDENS, Routledge 1949)

(Compiled by Dóra Maurer, English translation by Krisztina Sarkady-Hart)

Is the case different with the visual arts?

Exhibition of the painting students of the Hungarian University of Fine Arts
(Dóra Maurer’s class) in Artpool P60, 20-30 April 2004.

[video about the exhibition opening]