The Glass Bead Game | Curated by Alun Rowlands and Matt Williams | Vilma Gold Project Space Berlin | 2006

I suddenly realised that in the language, or at any rate in the spirit of the Glass Bead Game, everything actually was all-meaningful, that every symbol and combination of symbols led not to single examples, experiments, and proofs, but into the centre, the mystery and innermost heart of the world – into knowledge

– Hermann Hesse, ‘The Glass Bead Game’

Taking its title from Hermann Hesse’s novel, ‘The Glass Bead Game’ weaves together interrelated fictions that form a landscape of broken connections. Signposting the way are images and objects colluding to form an entropic trail that define a restless territory of creative knowledge.

Hesse’s novel, set in the future, tells a narrative of a monastic protagonist who plays a highly aesthetic game. The game integrates all fields of human and cosmic knowledge – sacred geometry, alchemy, hieroglyphics, mythology, harmonics, arithmetic, astronomy and magic. ‘The Glass Bead Game’ is the artistic, philosophical or cosmological manipulation of the symbolic forms that express these systems of knowledge. Once initiated into this system we can read hieroglyphs, alchemical texts or Gothic cathedrals; ‘The Glass Bead Game’ is thus a mode of playing with the total contents and values of culture.

The exhibition aims to be a polysemic constellation that evokes and fuses the real with the imaginary: delicate drawings, wax sculptures, botanical collage, esoteric busts, appropriated imagery and found material are manipulated with transformative effect. The artists relish in the degradation of the known and the perversion of a rational culture. Parallel worlds collide in the extrapolation of consumption and exchange that seek to look critically at the present. We encounter blueprints of personal visions that allow us to imagine how the sediments of our culture might otherwise be seen.

Juliette Blightman//
Steven Claydon//
William Daniels//
Jeff Davis//
Volker Eichelmann//
Thomas Houseago//
Sophie Macpherson//
Adam McEwen//
Seth Price//
Stefan Rinck//
Florain Roithmayr//
Dirk Stewen//
John Stezaker//

Stony carpets. Rimmed and buttressed basins. Tears of terraces. Matted filaments and curds. Thick leathery sheets brilliantly coloured, the intensity of hue varying as colonies of wax and wane. Rotten eggs. The arrival of the blue greens. Stony cushions, teetering columns and spiky armour. A ring of teeth. An endless variety of shapes, rays of light, trumpet-shaped mouths and elongated bodies. Packets of chlorophyll. Thrashing tails and giants. A mass of flailing threads and bulging out fingers. Ornate vases and bottles. Concentric spheres fixed by needles. Gothic helmets, rococo belfries and spiked space capsules. A creeping speck of grey jelly. A hollow sphere. A tiny ball. Needles meshed together to form a scaffold. A flower basket. A million tiny splinters or an intricate and beautiful lattice. An unfortunate woman who was loved with the god of the sea and as a result had her hair changed by a jealous goddess into snakes. An enemy, solitary, glued to the rock. Very odd shapes. A buttercup. a rose. Ghostly waves of light, writhing arms, a skeleton of stone, deposits ooze.

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