Cornerhouse announces closing exhibition Playtime

Playtime, an ambitious show featuring new commissions by nine international artists, filmmakers and musicians who pay tribute to the triangular three-storey brick structure that Cornerhouse has called home since 1985.

By Matthew Tyas | July 2nd '14

With the celebrated and esteemed venue preparing to move to its new First Street location in Spring 2015 to become HOME, Manchester’s new cross art form organisation, Cornerhouse is pleased to present Playtime, an ambitious show featuring new commissions by nine international artists, filmmakers and musicians who pay tribute to the triangular three-storey brick structure that Cornerhouse has called home since 1985. The exhibition will culminate in The Storming, a spectacular, one-off performance to close the venue by Manchester-based artist Humberto Vélez.

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Curated by Henriette Huldisch, Curator at the MIT List Visual Arts Center (Cambridge, MA) and Sarah Perks, Artistic Director of Visual Art and Film at Cornerhouse, the works variously take direct inspiration or pay loose tribute to
director Jacques Tati’s 1967 masterpiece Playtime. In the film, which is renowned for its enormous set constructing a dizzying, modernist Paris, Tati stages several elaborate sight gags as a recurring group of people wander about the city’s disorienting and repetitive environment.

The exhibition will feature sculpture, installation and sound works that branch out from the galleries, through the entire building, onto Oxford Road and beyond.

Through intricate mise-en-scène, sound effects, and eschewal of close-ups, Tati’s film famously upends conventional organization and reading of film space. Playtime culminates in a hilarious dance scene in a restaurant during which the entire faux luxury décor literally falls apart around the increasingly frenzied crowd. Artists will take the themes of the film as point of departure to explore architecture and physical comedy, sound and space, memory and site. The exhibition will feature sculpture, installation and sound works that branch out from the galleries, through the entire building, onto Oxford Road and beyond.

Perks said “Playtime is absolutely a landmark exhibition for me, a celebration of the 30 years I’ve attended Cornerhouse and the 13 years I’ve worked here. It’s an honour to collaborate once again with Henriette Huldisch and involve a diverse range of artists and mediums. True to our spirit, it’s as much about ‘looking in’ as ‘looking
out’. Of course we all feel nostalgic about Cornerhouse closing its doors, but nostalgia only deals with the past and never with the future. This is an original, contemporary exhibition that uses Tati’s Playtime as a springboard to think about our relationship to physical space, architecture and sound.”

Henriette Huldisch added “Playtime is a continuation of Cornerhouse’s signature group exhibitions using a movie as inspiration to explore a number of related themes – humour, living environments, urban space in this case. In the spirit of Tati’s exuberant final part of the film, we’re also giving the beloved pie-shaped building an appropriate send-off as we move into HOME – which represents, incidentally, the opposite of the anonymous modernism Tati deplored.”

www.cornerhouse.org