At LISTE 2022, we present an installation by Cassidy Toner. The print reveals The Checkered Game of Life, which was invented by Milton Bradly in 1860. It was the first board game to gain widespread popularity throughout America. The game had a moralistic and philosophical approach, as to how one would win at “Life”. The board consisted of 64 tiles with various virtues and predicaments. To win, one simply had to collect 100 points and reach Happy Old Age. Bradly’s edition rewarded landing on tiles such as “Industry”, “Preserving”, and “Success”. On the other hand, players should be wary of tiles like “Ambition”, since it will send you straight to “Fame”, which was worth 0 points. Not to mention that “Ambition” is surrounded by “Jail”, “Prison”, and “Suicide”. The Checkered Game of Life was not a game of pure luck either. It embraced chance and choice simultaneously. It was analogous to making the best of the hand of cards, you were dealt with.
Each sculpture personifies a tile from The Checkered Game of Life. The anthropomorphic, kitsch figures innocently and unconditionally embrace, whichever tile they are modeled after. The ceramics, approaching a grotesquely sweet aesthetic, are in sharp in contrast with the black and white game board they sit adjacent to. They are akin to Voltaire’s Candide, who maintains an almost inhuman optimism, as he transverses a savage world.
The sculptures continue Toner’s interest in traditional kitsch ceramics, based on the theory that kitsch is less about the object observed, than about the observer. It is because of this, that the sculptures allow the observer to endlessly project onto them. Thus, the works’ only aim is to find beauty, free of ethics, in any form. The philosopher, Roger Scruton, said, “Kitsch is fake art, expressing fake emotions, whose purpose is to deceive the consumer into thinking he feels something deep and serious.” Just like in Milton Bradly’s The Checkered Game of Life, landing on Truth is worth 0 points.
This project is supported by Pro Helvetia Schweizer Kulturstiftung
Cassidy Toner questions artistic principles; aesthetic values and academic traditions, as well as existential matters; behavioral patterns anent desire and prejudice. She was born 1992, in Baltimore and lives in Basel. In 2018, Toner graduated from FHNW Institute Kunst. Recent solo and duo exhibitions include at Sgomento Zurigo (2021); KunstRaumRiehen (2021); PHILIPPZOLLINGER (Zurich, 2019) and Saint Luke (Zurich, 2019). In addition, she has participated in numerous group shows, such as at Swiss Institute (New York, 2020); Kunsthalle Basel (2019); KunstRaumRiehen (2019); C.Rockefeller (Dresden, 2019); Yverdon Art Center (2019); Kai Matsumiya (New York, 2019); Kunsthalle Freiburg (2018); Wallriss (Freiburg 2018) and Kunsthaus Baselland (2018). In 2018, Toner was the recipient of the Kunstkredit Award in Basel and in 2021, of the Kiefer Hablitzel Prize.