Play Digest: Brian Jungen and Teppei Kaneuji

This week’s pairing of PlayTime artists—Brian Jungen and Teppei Kaneuji—focuses on two different approaches to the transformation of the ordinary—both playful in their own way.

Sculptor Brian Jungen‘s Dane-zaa heritage informs some of his most potent work. As a young man, Jungen took a trip to New York, where he bought a pair of basketball shoes in a trio of colors that were associated with the Haida tribe of the Pacific Northwest. Since that formative moment, Jungen has taken readily available sports clothing—team jerseys and sneakers, in many cases—and transformed their status and material state to contain a different meaning of “tribal” and make connections between the deification of some consumer goods and the commodification of native culture. Jungen is also interested in how “professional sports fill the need for ceremony within the larger culture of society.”His acts of transformation aren’t limited to Air Jordans. He has made whale skeletons out of basic white plastic outdoor chairs, totem poles out of golf bags, and eagles and possums out of suitcases.

Jungen’s work will be highlighted in a the twentieth edition of the Liverpool Biennial this year, in which co-curator Kitty Scott will give special attention to artists of Indigenous Australian and Canadian First People’s descent.

Kyoto-based Teppei Kaneuji uses resin and glue to make accumulated masses of the most unlikely objects. In an interview, the artist cites his “deliberate misuse and substitution” of materials and tools, such as the hair from dolls used to create Teenage Fanclub, one of the Kaneuji pieces on display in Playtime.

His series of assembled stuffed and sewn cut-outs, Games, Dance and the Constructions extends his playful reimagining and reassembling of items into surreal pillow-scapes contained in boxes.

Kaneuji cites everything and everyone from manga to Richard Deacon to Robert Smithson as influences. He finds—not unlike Jungen does in his work—that there are what could almost be described as cultural patterns that resolve themselves from the intermingling and reimagining of consumer goods, unleashing the unexpected in the overly-familiar.

Check in next week for a new roundup of the latest play news and stories.

(Image credit: Photo by Ken Sawyer/PEM.)

About Eugenia Bell

Eugenia Bell is the guest editor for She is the former executive editor of Design Observer and Design Editor of Frieze. Her writing has appeared in Frieze, Artforum, Bookforum, and Garage, among other places.