Playing Games: Chance, Skill, and Abstraction
Classic games are gateways to the past. George Widener’s recent work transports us to an unfamiliar future where history is condensed into dates and numerical patterns. “Playing Games: Chance, Skill, and Abstraction” is curated around this convergence of tradition and innovation, presenting vintage American gameboards and carnival games (dating between the late 19th and the mid 20th century) in dialogue with Widener’s works depicting hyper-complex games—meant to be played by enhanced humans or intelligent machines when advanced non-biological intelligence, or “Singularity,” becomes a reality. Isolated from their initial context and purpose, the early examples of carnival games and handmade gameboards overlap with (and in many cases precede) modern art, particularly works of geometric abstraction. This exhibition highlights the inventiveness of countless anonymous artists who produced functional games that are also readymade works of art, displaying them as counterparts to Widener’s “Magic Square” and “Magic Circle” series.