Survival Games (Works In Progress)
AKA: “The Series Formally Known as Hunter/Quarry”.
In Grade 7 my class went on a field trip to a large wooded property located outside of town to play “The Survival Game”.
Prior to going on the trip, each student was to draw a token out of a hat. The tokens signified different animals; the animal token we chose would determine our position in the hierarchy of nature. The goal of the game was to try and survive the longest out in the “wild”. You would “die” if one of your classmates – as an animal that was your natural predator – tagged you.
As the rules of the game were explained to the class, I fantasized being a deer, wolf, or eagle. Something majestic…high up in the chain of command with few predators. I drew “field mouse”.
Everybody else playing the game was my mortal enemy. My sole purpose, after meeting up with my “mate” and exchanging vouchers to prove we had “procreated”, was to survive. For a field mouse this meant: 1) take cover and hide from the rest of the natural world, or, 2) keep running fast, fast as you can so you wouldn’t get caught. As an impressionable youngster, this “game” clearly defined for me the parameters of social hierarchy, not just in nature, but also in human society.
Inspired by my grade 7 field trip experience, Survival Game consists of two thematically connected series of works-on-paper that explore the dynamics of social hierarchy through constructs of identity: how we present ourselves and how we are perceived. Both series investigate the shifting and/or equalizing of status between dominant and submissive roles through alterations of identity, illustrating the relative concept of social power. The status and social position of the individuals fluctuate from piece to piece as relationships and identities evolve through layers of artifice, costume, and cunning. In Survival Games: One On One eighteen works-on-paper, each 15”x22”, narrate the relationship between “couples” of unequal status: predator vs. prey. Survival Games: Six On Six, a series of six larger works-on-paper (each 22”x30”) explores the hierarchical relationships of groupings of figures, suggesting conflict in gang rivalry proportions.