A4 Art MuseumA4 KidsExhibitions
iSTART Children’s Art Festival

Theme Exhibition of the 9th iSTART Children’s Art Festival: “The Family of Infinite Games”

2023.08.26 - 2023.11.19
  • Artistic Director:
    Sunny Sun
  • Curator:
    Li Jie
  • Co-curator:
    Bai Xue, Chong Chong, Deng Dafei, Gong Yu, Hu Jun, Liu Mengfei
  • Artist:
    Hu Renyi, Zhou Yumei, Yuan Tangchaoshou, Wu Kaixun, Nana, Chen Qiang

Exhibition information

iSTART — A Home for Infinite Creation, A Land for Life’s Emergence

The iSTART Children’s Art Festival, which has been running for nine editions, is growing more slowly. In a sense, this is our attempt to slow down the disappearance of childhood and extend our meticulous and specific care for children. At the same time, children and their communities can seek a suitable growth ecology to grow freely in a broader and inclusive social space through continuous dialogue and co-creation, thereby truly achieving diversified and holistic development, rather than just a fleeting spark of inspiration. Over the years, iSTART has transcended the single categories of art, education, or children’s issues and become a symbiotic and collaborative action network that discovers children, drives creation, and connects society.

Over the past ten years, we have continuously asked ourselves: How can we better protect children’s curiosity from being eroded by the oppression of the relatively closed and unidirectional education system? How can we encourage them to become confident, independent, and innovative individuals? How can we trigger them to think and create from more dimensions and participate in more sustained social actions? How can we help them see a bigger world, embrace others, and embrace and participate in building a better world?

During the three years of the pandemic, we embarked on a journey with children, guided by questions. Generalized and positive “game creation” has become our best choice. It can generate happy and equal dialogues, possess infinite possibilities for derivation, and contain the tremendous potential to stimulate human beings’ most primitive curiosity, learning ability, and engagement. The “gamer” is a more vital state full of freedom, creativity, and connectivity.

Starting from the “do it” project of the 6th iSTART Children’s Art Festival in 2020, the A4 Art Museum team has focused on the perspective of children and created a generative approach based on collaboration, providing game instructions for “creative experiences” to break the past pattern of curation led by curators, artists, or child education projects. Subsequently, the 7th iSTART “1001 Game School,” the 8th “Nonexistent Game Museum,” and this year’s “Infinite Game Family” have continuously iterated methods, expanded communities, and created over 500 diverse creative games with over 8,000 children and 3,000 collaborators. Even during the worst period of the pandemic, the iSTART game and instruction projects connected people through creative questions and interactions, resulting in hundreds of collaborative works and projects.

As the number of participants in the iSTART project has expanded, this year children, families, schools, public institutions, and communities from 34 cities and villages in China have built their own “big family” through the connection of the art museum. The “little curators” and “little editorial teams” have expanded our understanding of children’s social games through their social exploration, game creation, and publication editing. The “little curators” have reshaped our understanding of the functions and spaces of art museums through their collaboration with architects.

In the exhibition space of this year’s iSTART “Infinite Game Family,” the iSTART collaborative team and the little curators have gathered the artistic creations and games of thousands of children and collaborators into a whole — a challenging game about exploring oneself and engaging in dialogue. Every visitor entering the exhibition/game entrance will have the opportunity to awaken their game identity: choose their role, participate in the game, and deeply experience each project. On the first floor, you can explore the “family games” dreamed up by different children and artists, experience the wonderful adventure of the “Gaga Image Projection Plan — Crisis Moment,” immerse in the creative community of the “Family Art Museum Project,” reshape family relationships as the starting point for collaboration between children and parents, and expand our understanding of the dimensions of home and art museums. Participate in the adventure games of “Lane Hero” and “Panda Hero”…

Upon entering the second-floor exhibition hall, you will encounter various art and game projects created by children from families, schools, villages, and the natural world. The “Click Magic Moment – Family Video Game Project” invites children from urban, rural, and even more marginalized communities to reinterpret their unique perspectives on life through their “third eye.” The “T+ Rural Teacher Aesthetic Education Development Plan” integrates curatorial thinking, game thinking, and localized fusion education to empower rural teachers and children to expand their aesthetic horizons and create a shared educational ecosystem that leverages local resources. The “iA Please Answer – Connecting the World Through Five Senses” project features thousands of children’s drawings, poems, sounds, and bodily expressions, attracting numerous artists, writers, educators, and scholars to engage in a “trans-linguistic” multi-faceted dialogue that bridges their spirits. Visitors will acquire the ability to engage with the world through their five senses through interactive games designed to transcend these senses.

Finally, in the third-floor exhibition hall, the “Teenagers’ Self-Rescue” unit focuses on current childhood psychological syndromes. Through the independent perspective of adolescents and their psychological journey, it aims to reflect and take proactive action, awakening more people to pay attention to, understand, and support children’s psychological issues. Visitors will also embark on the ultimate challenge of the exhibition – confronting their own inner selves and experiencing how children in difficult situations have healed their hearts through dialogue and artistic expression.

Through iSTART’s practice of creating games and community collaboration, we see the positive value of art and games in terms of social connection, spiritual comfort, self-realization, and relationship integration. It also constitutes a small, tangible, and transferable reality. Just as “iSTART” envisioned at the outset – starting from every small idea (idea) and every small self (i)… we hope that everyone will join us in transforming from players into creators and embarking on a journey of exploration filled with childlike wonder and adventure.

— Li Jie

Installation Views