In the game of chess the term endgame refers to the final stages of a match, often only a few playing pieces are left on the board. Differing from the beginning or the middle game, the endgame often takes on separate characteristics; strategies are modified in anticipation of a final outcome or resolution and players have correspondingly different strategic concerns. The endgame, in chess, often relies on a player challenging the rules and setting a new strategy of play in the final resolution of engagement.
In Endgames, so too do Michael Coolidge, Craig Le Blanc, Mike Paget and Laura Wilson challenge the strategies, activities, and outcomes of game culture and gamesmanship in its multiple forms: leisure, sport, and entertainment. Rewardingly, this challenge is met with clever, witty, and innovative moves at every turn.
Craig Le Blanc’s strikingly precise sculptures propose new forms and functions through hybridized architectures and gaming equipment. Accordingly, Le Blanc offers insightful propositions on the future of public and private affectations of sport and the continually shifting notion of spectacle. Phaser, a work by UK based Laura Wilson, seeks to engage through the simplicity of its found materials. The work’s interactive appeal is courtesy of the artist’s poetic economy of materials: allowing a simple plank of plywood, and a homemade sound-generating device to captivate and, refreshingly, allow for play.
Alternately, Mike Paget’s charmingly absurd self-programmed arcade games and curiously altered gaming platforms approach a technically ambiguous gaming culture. With arcade titles like Acid Spill Paget invites the viewer to determine their own narratives within his own perversely satisfying environments. Michael Coolidge’s contribution to Endgames consists of a series of deceptively minimal photographs: documentation of his architecturally engaged Free Bowl project. Potential and chance drive this activity, while Coolidge, as facilitator of the tournament, allows participants to complete the work through their own choices and activity. It is a game in which the rules have the ability to generate themselves.
Despite a disparity of strategies these artists not only share a sensitive understanding of what it means to be engaged, as artist’s and in the multiple forms of ‘the game’, but also rise to the challenge of the endgame, craftily proposing strategies which courageously forward the pawns, queens, and kings of their respective arsenals with the unequivocal aim of challenging a response.
-Jason de Haan