2016, STAMP GALLERY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, COLLEGE PARK, MD
Paradise Now is a social gaming event designed to emphasize interdependent and collaborative relations amongst strangers. Throughout each 60-minute round, all players are invited to interpret the Score, or the set of directive actions created specifically for different roles in the game. Using the player manual, players may navigate the game boards and interact with gaming mechanisms in the space, such as a podium on wheels, 3 performance stages, assortments of flowers and fruit, and more. With cinematic lighting and the projection of a live-streaming recording of the round, players are put in touch with their own performativity. In its multiple iterations, players of the game have produced various moves and tactics of playing, sometimes repeating exact moves of strangers, and other times creating brand new approaches, while following the exact same Score. Audio is used to mark the passage of time, while I assist with additional verbal instruction and unscripted announcements.
In this iteration of the game, players could add marks and phrases to the Score in order to complete the instructions. The social space that the performative nature of this event facilitates is anchored in the stripping of participants’ sense of normative modes of behavior. This dynamic allows participants to create their own modes of behavior in collaboration with others. In the text Outline of a Theory of Practice, Pierre Bourdieu defines the term doxa as a shared set of social norms that are tied to the cultural identity of a place but are often left unspoken and acknowledged only implicitly. Doxa is the ‘commonsensical’ way of being that certain ‘natural’ inhabitants of a place are indoctrinated into, while others (visitors, for example) do not easily recognize. Taking influence from this, Paradise Now provides one aspect of the experience of migration, i.e., the mismatch between internal and external doxa, for non-immigrant visitors. Additionally, this dynamic is able to reveal each player’s sense of entitlement, as they navigate the space in accordance with their own sense of what is and isn’t appropriate. Through participation, players may gain a greater sense of their own subjectivity.