SANDPLAY (2021-2023) by MIRTHE BERENTSEN and MARTÍN LA ROCHE is part of the group exhibition ‘VOM SPIELEN / ABOUT PLAYING’ at LUDWIG MUSEUM KOBLENZ [from 20230212 to 20230409]

[Photos: Ludwig Museum Koblenz]

Mirthe Berentsen (1984, Netherlands) and Martín La Roche (1988, Chile) found each other in their search for words. In 2018, they both took part in the artist-in-residence programme of the Dutch organisation Beautiful Distress in the psychiatric ward of Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, New York, where they were confronted with the boundaries of language. Martín and Mirthe organised artistic workshops for people with different diagnoses and mental health problems during their stay at the hospital. The clients were encouraged to (re)write their narratives and in doing so connect to their own voices and personal stories in a different way.

These shared experiences were a starting point for this Sandplay installation, in which the personal memories and subjective associations become a collective action. This translation into the collective domain takes place in a sandbox where visitors are welcome to sit down and play with a series of collected objects in the sand. The traces of this game shape a constantly changing display.

This artwork is a free interpretation of the sandplay therapy developed by psychoanalyst Dora Kalff in the 1950s. During this therapy objects are taken from a bookshelf and freely placed in a sandbox to create new narratives that could overcome trauma, especially when it seems impossible to translate emotions into words. Similarly, in this installation there is free space to make memory associations with objects.

‘About Playing’ was curated by the Künstlerhaus Schloss Balmoral art residency in Bad Ems. The exhibition has been conceived by Lotte Dinse (former director of the Schloss Balmoral artist residency programme) and Agnes Schofield (acting director of the Schloss Balmoral artist residency programme) in collaboration with the curatorial fellow Roger Rohrbach.

[Text: Ludwig Museum Koblenz]

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