Brot und Spiele [2013]

Bread and Circuses

12.11.2013 – 06.12.2013

Lichthof Ost of Humboldt University of Berlin

Opening on Tuesday, 12 November 2013, 7 – 10 p.m.

Außenansicht einer Spielothek
© Milena Mercer

“Human beings only play where they are human in the full sense of the word and they are only completely human where they play.”

Friedrich Schiller

Playing games is an essential part of human life. While playing we are creative, carefree and imaginative. We forget our everyday worries and are intensively engaged in an activity that purpose seems be the occupation itself.

But does playing games serve a higher purpose? The Dutch cultural scientist Johan Huizinga published his book Homo Ludens in 1938/39 and tried to proof, that our cultural systems, like politics, science and religion evolved from playful behavior. This behavior later consolidated through ritualization and institutionalization. Therefore the meaning of playing would exceed the mere purpose of entertainment and be an important factor for our cultural development.

The well-known saying bread and circuses describes the strategy of political and economic elites to buy the people with gifts and distract them with staged mega-events. The idiom originated from the satire panem et circenses by the Roman poet Juvenal. He satirizes the Roman public for letting themselves be bought by the senators and generals. They simply want to eat and be entertained. Do we live the modern version of this political marginalization in the thrill-seeking consumer society?

The exhibition of the Kleine Humboldt Gallery assembles contemporary art with objects of our visual culture to explore the relationship of our society to bread, games and circuses. One focus lies on the mass media and the virtual realities of computer games and the internet. The potentials of art and games are used to generate a space for creative ideas and food for thought.

Let the games begin!

Download the press release as a PDF here.


Guided tours every Friday at 5 p.m.

Film Screening on Tuesday, 19.11.2013, 8 p.m.
Unter den Linden 6, room 2014 a (1st floor, eastern side wing):
Christian Stahl: Gangsterläufer, documentary, 2011 (RBB/ARTE and ZDF co-production).


Florian Albrecht-Schoeck
Pippin Barr
Harun Farocki
Asaf Koriat
Christin Lahr
Emanuel Oliviera Barata
Eddo Stern

Curated by Milena Mercer.

Special thanks to Dr. Angelika Keune and Dagmar Oehler.

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