Considering Free Play and The Self

“You are not ashamed to care for the acquisition of wealth and for reputation and honour, but you do not concern yourselves with yourselves, that is, with wisdom, truth and perfection of the soul.”[1]


Is there a theoretical link between ‘care’ for the self with the notion of ‘free play’. Can art be seen as a method of allowing an audience to ‘care’ for their ‘self’ through ‘free play’.

My previous works have looked at ways of engaging an audience more fully – to create a dialogue with the audience. In particular I aimed to create works that allowed the audience a quiet space for reflection; works that encouraged a state of free play either by physically consuming them or by being so ephemeral you were unsure they were there.

I was interested in the democracy I believe is offered by art – that all who submit themselves to a lack of knowledge when viewing a new art work, become equal. This notion is rooted in my research of Jacques Ranciere’s “The Emancipated Spectator”. It is this understanding of art and its ability to ‘equalise’ people of different classes, genders, ages, races etc. that has lead me to consider how politics in art does not necessarily have to be as obvious as Ranciere suggests it should be. I believe it is possible to construct an argument that uses free play and ‘self care’ to prove that the political power of art does not require political subject matter.

I consider an artwork to be separate and complete in its alterity; indifferent to the view it is subjected to. The indifferency of the art object allows the viewer to play freely with its appearance [2]– it promotes an attitude in the viewer that allows them to take part in an activity of ‘self care’: to discover and consider one’s beliefs and how they align with the art object and what that art object purports. Its indifferency allows the viewer a full, thorough, and most importantly, “objective” focal point to test their internal truths against. It encourages the viewer to turn their “aletheia” into “ethos”.[3]

I believe that art is uniquely placed to provide people with the opportunity to care for their “self” through ‘free play’.

[1] Plato’s Apology, Page 20, lines14, Michel Foucault in Technologies of the Self, The University of Massachusetts Press, 1988.

[2] “Schillers Juno Ludovisi…does nothing, wants nothing and offers no model for imitation…”Page 69, line 4, Jacques Ranciere, The emancipated Spectator, Verso, 2009,

[3] “…a set of practices by which one can acquire, assimilate, and transform truth into a permanent principle of action. Aletheia becomes ethos…” Page 35, line 28, Michel Foucault in Technologies of the Self, The University of Massachusetts Press, 1988.


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