While continuing to render her drawings on antique ledger book pages, Despont’s latest body of work focuses on the educational and psychological effects of recreational games, while also nodding to the title’s etymology: meaning to create again, renew, or to recover.
Each game within Recreation is depicted and characterized by their tools, inviting a sense of interactivity. However, the gameplay has changed as new rules and parameters have been defined for them in this exhibition. The symmetry, geometry, and spatial mapping inherent in a pinball machine, building blocks, or kites now overlap with the yantras, mandalas, and mapping systems that have informed Despont’s work throughout her career.
The starting point for the exhibition was the largest multipage work, Observatory Board Game, measuring nearly twelve feet long. In the center is an astronomical park, Jantar Mantar, which brought Despont to India almost a decade ago. To the left is a cityscape reminiscent of the New York skyline where she was born and to the right, is a mountain range that resembles her current home in Bali. A path winds its way through the pages, tracing the places where the artist has lived and traveled.
Many of the works in the exhibition are abstracted references to games, but the single page Division Board series is more literal. Structured like the Indonesian gambling game Kocokan, each work contains a simple grid with six boxes. Colorful radiating circles split within each box and morph together like cells dividing—a motif she repeats across the entire series.
Words and images via Nicelle Beauchene Gallery