A4 Art MuseumExhibitions
iSTART Children’s Art Festival

The 8th iSTART Children’s Art Festival Theme Exhibition “There Is No Game Museum”

2022.08.14 - 2022.10.30
  • Artistic Director:
    Sunny Sun
  • Curator:
    Li Jie
  • Co-curator:
    Bai Xue, Chong Chong, Deng Dafei, Gong Yu, Hu Jun, Liu Mengfei
  • Little Curator:
    Cai Weiyi, Sun Yuexiao, Wang Luyi, Wang Zixin, Yang Xintian, Zhang Xiaoran, Zhang Leran, and other 25 children
  • Co-create Artist:
    Cai Jie, Dong Jie, Frank Vollebregt, Hannah, Kimi, Lai Xi, Mikio Saito, Yue Chenrong, Zhao Xuetong, Zheng Jingyi, and other more than 100 people
  • Little Artist:
    Deng Juntian, Li Ren, Li Xiran, Lin Keru, Wang Tianyue, Xiong Junjie, Zhang Shufeng, and other more than 1000 children
  • Exhibition Design:
  • Visual Design:
    firmfirm Design Studio

Exhibition information

The 8th iSTART Children’s Art Festival in 2022 aims to build a “Museum of Nonexistent Games” from a child’s perspective, with children and their supporters. This is a temporary “museum” filled with “miracles”. When you step inside, it feels like experiencing a vast game that looks like an exhibition. Through it, we hope to integrate hundreds of games created by children, artists, and designers, along with their growth stories behind them, to explore the relationship and possibilities of fusion between “art, games, and creativity”. We aspire for every viewer to engage and participate deeply, traversing history, civilization, and imagination of life through a child’s perspective and wisdom, revealing the suppressed creativity of children, understanding the positive value of games, and experiencing the joy of collective creation.

Humans are inherently “creatures of play,” whether in ancient caves, vast wildernesses, ancient courtyards, or today’s cyberspace. Play pervades our lives, whether we are young children or grown adults. We can even consider the process of artistic creation, learning, social operations, and even the course of human life as forms of play. Play can be specific or spiritual, effortless. In this sense, art and play share a more essential connection. The “Museum of Nonexistent Games” aims to encourage everyone to participate in and generate such diverse and creative games.

Here, games serve as a “catalyst,” the most free, friendly, open, and interactive medium. In the world of games, children can interact with adults more equally. Often, we are even humbled by the games created by children. Almost all children enjoy games, but in reality, they often become mere consumers of games produced by adults. We greatly underestimate the value of children’s participation in creating games. When they become the “brains” of games, learning and playing through “doing” may unleash forces beyond our imagination. Such childhood moments should be prolonged, not swallowed up by outdated and monotonous learning methods.

Finite games, like our fixed educational concepts, require rules and encourage competition. Infinite games, on the other hand, are closer to the state of artistic creation, constantly breaking rules and boundaries, connecting and growing freely with oneself and the community. The combination of art and games provides a new dimension for many people, including children, to re-examine themselves and the world. The continuous actions of art museums connecting schools, communities, families, cities, and villages, adults, and children are also providing broader soil for socialized learning for children and promoting the construction of a social co-education ecosystem.

We are particularly grateful for the participation of over 1,800 children from urban and rural areas, over 200 collaborating artists, and schools, institutions, and community families from more than 30 provinces, making this year’s iSTART even more open and diverse. We have not only continued the artist unit of “passing the ball” and the incubation projects of rich museum-school collaborations, but also divided the “little curator” project into experimental and action groups to promote children’s imaginative practices. In addition to publishing their second publication, the little editorial department has also designed a central service desk based on the entire exhibition, inviting NPCs (non-player characters) to serve all players. The “Gaga Kingdom” project has returned this year, bringing the history and customs of the “Gaga Kingdom” from the perspective of “Gaga Scientists”…

This year, we have also collaborated with public welfare platforms such as the National Rural Children’s Aesthetic Education Public Welfare Action Network to launch the long-term “T+ Plan” to support the development of rural teachers. Through collaborative games created by rural teachers and children, we can see the tremendous potential of rural children in understanding nature, expressing emotions, and creating together through meaningful “play.” The “Quiet Drawing” project, initiated by Lens for Kids and involving thousands of children and adult creators, allows us to learn from children’s doodles, inviting adults to read children’s images and enter their world, thus regaining their authentic creativity. The “Game of Life Adventure” project, in collaboration with Dr. Liu Mengfei’s team from Beijing Normal University, presents natural and historical games, connecting historical and contemporary games through the story of the Game God Tree and Mushroom People. It invites all “players” to gain insights by exchanging their game preferences – to recognize their gaming personality. The “Artistic Creation Project for Blind Children,” collaborating with Professor Hu Jun from Hangzhou Normal University, allows us to see the invisible through bodily experience, entering the rich and colorful painting world of blind children. The “Family Art Museum Plan,” in collaboration with Deng Dafei and dozens of institutions, extends the dual meaning of families and art museums, allowing us to rediscover the value of beauty and dialogue in our daily lives…

We are delighted to see more friends who support children’s development joining forces with iSTART to continuously break down boundaries and merge into a fertile soil. We hope that more people will join us in the journey of empowering children and activating their lives through art. We look forward to everyone embarking on the spiritual journey of the “Museum of Nonexistent Games,” discovering more, listening more, and creating more amidst the joyful play, and being illuminated by each vibrant life.

——Li Jie

Installation Views