Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Arts: The Red Ball Project comes to Exeter

Source: The RedBall Project Toronto by Rob Burke on Flickr
Exeter will be one of five UK cities visited by the internationally mysterious RedBall Project from artist Kurt Perschke this summer. I am extremely excited about this and hope to see it in town at one of it's installation spaces during the 3 day visit from Friday 15 June to Sunday 17 June. From what I can gather, it is just what is says on the tin, a big red ball, a really big red ball, placed in various locations around the city. It's been all over the world - Chicago, Toronto, Barcelona, Perth, Dubai and more - and everyone seems to agree that it's awesome.

Source: The RedBall Project in Norwich by Leo Reynolds on Flickr
Source: RedBallProject.co.uk

According to Perschke, The RedBall Project is about creating a 'catalyst for new encounters within the everyday. Through the magnetic, playful, and charismatic nature of the RedBall the work is able to access the imagination embedded in all of us.' And I can see exactly where he's going with that. There is something so universal about a ball - the fact that you just want to touch it or kick it or poke it or something - which brings an immediate sense of childhood and whimsy. The fact that it's SO big totally reinforces that.

The project is remeinscent of Carsten Holler's Test Site giant slide installation that was part of the Tate Modern's Unilever Series back in 2007. For that thoroughly successful installation, the artist built three giant slides in the turbine hall in order to capture 'the visual spectacle of watching people sliding and the ‘inner spectacle’ experienced by the sliders themselves, the state of simultaneous delight and anxiety that you enter as you descend'. The title of the project, 'Test Site', was an invitation for towns and businesses to integrate slides into everyday life. Though London did not permanently take him up on this offer, thousands of grown up visitors became part of the 'inner spectacle' of his artsy indoor play area.

img Tate slides
Souce Duvet Dayz
And I guess that's what it comes down to. While I fully respect the statements of both artist here, with regards to 'imagination' and 'visual spectacle', this sort of art - installations based on exaggeration and recontextualisation of childhood experiences - is good because it's really about creating an opportunity for grown ups to do things that they should have grown out of years ago, in an intellectually acceptable space. Don't get me wrong, I think there should be more of it and I am extremely pleased that Torbay Council and Dartington Trust worked to get this project here in the South West. That said, I'm sure that intellectuals looking for something to deconsturct would get the same stimulus from putting a fun fair in the Tate or an adult only ball pool on the Cathedral Green, whether they called it art or not. And every music festival in the UK will have a similar 'installation' in place, not for the sake of art, but for the sake of fun. 

I love a good laugh and the colour red, so I'm planning to go along on Friday to the Guildhall for this very reason.


  1. Thanks for the blog post! We can't wait for the Exeter leg either. Devon has been so much fun so far, with great sites and fantastic responses. Huge thanks to everyone who's taken part. See you in Exeter this weekend!

    PS Carsten Holler's project looks fantastic - aesthetically beautiful, interesting and fun.

    From the RedBall UK team - www.redballuk.co.uk

  2. What treat for you guys to visit my little page! I orginally saw a listing in the 'Exeter Summer in the City' brochure and thought it looked pretty cool. But when it saw my friends FB pics from Plymouth, I was fully sold. See you on Friday!