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The game and the workshops

The Mind Game series at Het Nieuwe Instituut was developed by artists Charlie Koolhaas and Madelon Vriesendorp. It was based on a work of the same name from Vriesendorps oeuvre, which she describes as “playground surrealism”. The game, which can also be described as a home analysis kit, consists of a board game-sized stage, on which the participants place a number of objects that have a symbolic meaning for them. The players stage a form of interaction and communication between the objects, creating a scene. The built set then reveals something about the mindset of the maker: from the chosen set-up, others can intuit information about the players state of mind - effectively turning the game into a method of psychological analysis. For the workshop series at Het Nieuwe Instituut, 50 participants each made their own mind game. They were given the assignment to put together a number of objects that had a special, symbolic meaning for them in a miniature model room, thus creating a meaningful display. The compositions were then analysed by the rest of the group.

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Overtaken by reality

 Since the workshop started in the middle of the first coronavirus lockdown, the game took place virtually, via Zoom. Although the organisers assumed that this would make it a somewhat impersonal experience, the domestic confinement had the opposite effect. The lockdown gave the room a new meaning in The Mind Game, as the game space and the real life of the participants increasingly started to resemble each other. 

As the actual space in which we were confined became more intertwined with our self-created (or imaginary) space, the chosen objects and arrangements also reflected the psychological experience of being confined.

 In this way, the workshop eventually became a highly emotional and personal experience, in which the Zoom sessions not only functioned as an important link with the outside world, but also as a much-needed way to process experiences in these terrifying times.

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The exhibition

 The exhibition in Gallery 3 By You shows the development of this process and the different rooms that emerged from it. A unique installation has been specially designed for the exhibition in which workshop participants have each enlarged an object from their original space into a life-size sculpture. These have all been placed in actual spaces in Het Nieuwe Instituut. In these rooms, visitors to the exhibition can play the Mind Game themselves, rearranging the objects in them. Whenever they enter a new room, they see the scene composed by the previous visitor, and the relationship between the different objects reveals something of the previous visitors state of mind, forcing the viewer to interpret and analyse the intentions behind the arrangment. In turn, each visitor is asked to rearrange the scene for the next visitor in a way that feels meaningful to them. Gallery 3 thus becomes a constantly changing theatre of the human mind. It gets the audience thinking about the meaning of objects and about the psychological structures and symbolic references that we all share, and it also shows how much can be said or implied by just a few simple forms, when we put our symbolic language to work.

Dutch and English

Het Nieuwe Instituut
Museumpark 25
3015 CB Rotterdam


Wednesday - Sunday

11:00 - 18:00

Het Nieuwe Instituut
Maud Vervenne