Exhibition

Outlandish Objects at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Work by Maarten Baas, Max Lamb, and others in the exhibition “Free Play” transform the everyday.

If efficiency is the barometer of success in today’s productivity-driven world, what time is there left for dreaming? In “Free Play,” now on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara through August 20, curator Alexandra Cunningham Cameron brings together a selection of whimsical objects to explore what happens when designers choose uninhibited experimentation over pure functionality. The show’s distorted reality unfolds as spectators move through a labyrinth made of blush-pink curtain, encountering artworks of a certain Seussian disposition: a giant metallic disco ball, smashed and wrinkled, dangles from the ceiling; a chair with an extra, extra, extra-long back curls into a tunnel at one of the maze’s dead ends; a white crate filled with plastic balls stands in for a beach chair. Here, the imaginations of a cadre of international designers and artists—Maarten Baas, Max Lamb, Jimenez Lai, and Katie Stout, among them—materialize into uncanny forms that, at least to their curator, stand in as a rejection to automation and logic. “The show is intended to be fun, but it definitely has a political angle to it,” Cunningham Cameron says. “I like to think of a lot of these pieces as exercises in meaningful inefficiency: What happens when you let your mind wander and you let yourself relax?”

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"Free Play" at the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara
Photos: Injinash Unshin, Courtesy MCASB.
"Free Play" at the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara

"Free Play" at the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara

"Free Play" at the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara

"Free Play" at the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara

"Free Play" at the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara

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