Ping Pong - Angewandte Festival 2019

The Social Design Studio organized an open ping-pong-tournament. The winner in this competition will be the one who has nothing to lose, who is willing to pay any price and who will never reach the destination. The ones who participate agree to severe rules of the game, will maybe succeed or will be excluded. Cheaters and spoilers will be around, tricks and betray will prevail.

The challenges of this tournament seem to be unsurmountable. What is going on? And who will succeed in the end? And why?

The Social Design Studio has developed a ping pong-table with the size of a standard table only the typical net, dividing the two halves have been replaced by a high and thick concrete wall topped by barbed wire. The players will not be able to see each other and are confronted with a huge barrier but also have to proceed in the game – with friendly partners or against enemies? Who will play on the right side? Whom will the watching audience support?

This playable sculpture represents a bold statement in the middle of the street, in the centre of Vienna, in front of Angewandte. In all its absurdity, it declares a statement for free space in the city, a space which is non-commercial and open to diverse usages. It states that an urban society is based on differences and not on homogeneity. It materializes the wish to deal with conflicts in a playful way and it is not shy about giving answers in case the art work provoked discussions. The table wants to promote the university’s statement to be not only visible in public space but to claim common areas in Vienna. The historical notion of Red Vienna’s “Volkshochschule“, a university open to all classes, is re-enacted. Nobody is excluded from the game and still: everybody can always lose. Privileges would not work under such rules.

A space in a city centre, open to all, free to use will provoke identification with the space, values of conduct will not be imposed top down but in a common playful process. The “players” play out their right to the city and the game will be open to anybody.

June 2019
Oskar Kokoschka Platz
Social Design Studio