This Artist is Using Larp to Hack the Institution

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The artist Omsk Social Club Feat. PUNK IS DADA — her name is an ever-evolving pseudonym — recently staged a “meta-larp” at the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst. Larp, which stands for live-action roleplaying game, is a genre that conjures imagery of fantasy-inspired battles with foam swords. But today’s larps have evolved and are ever more present in art institutions. The artist told us how using larp, together with new media and off-site livestreaming, she’s working with the concept of maximalism. This philosophy is “more is more” as opposed to the “less is more” motto of minimalism. Hence she adds layer after layer of abstraction, hacking multiple levels of the institution — from the storage depot to the website to the exhibition space.  We spoke to the artist about the artwork “Scene Afterform: Bona-fide Sites and the Meta Community”, which exposes reality as a contradictory mixture of opposites: on and offline, IRL and URL, real and unreal.

SLEEK: You’ve made a work that intersects concrete with virtual reality. Using new media and larp, you’ve chosen to hyperlink the physical space of the host institution with its usually invisible storage depot. Why?

Omsk Social Club Feat. PUNK IS DADA: We yearn to belong to a solid-state community and the museum is exactly that. Linking the storage and web devices became a way for me to maneuver our present material conditioning of the institution to inform a more psychological aesthetic rethinking of the self, community, and object via a communal cross stature gesture. Invisibility teamed with visibility can be a very effective tool for re-thinking, not only as a site but also a mental space.

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How do we navigate museums, and how do they center our movement? The viewer is a kind of node moving throughout the museum that gains information through familiar tactics, mostly linguistic. In my work, there are numerous participants that act as sites and larp nodes that are active inside the museum, offsite and online. There are all these different metaphysical and physical manifestations of the project itself. It works through maximalism, distorting the viewer’s ability to find an institutionalized path, because the path has always been hacked and is getting re-hacked — an Anamorphic device.

SLEEK: So we could see viewers as nodes syncing up with your larp nodes, rather than as typical viewers following a curated experience.

OSCFPID: The way in which I use larp isn’t necessarily a functional manifestation of a larp. I’m using it more as a starting point, and a point to subvert from. I see it as a meta-larp, because it’s using characters and motifs, and I orchestrate and switch spaces (real and figuratively) over the eight hours, which is the narrative of a larp typically, but I’m also working a lot within the psychological real space of the participant, too. I mimic the digital and the real world that we’re constantly trying to map and negotiate by offering it as a kind of dummy run through terrain — or a live simulation.

 

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SLEEK: Why would you choose exactly larp, or why do you choose to call it larp instead of any other form of participation?

OSCFPID: If you call something a larp, it gives the person who participates in it a moment to be completely free. They can enact themselves, or they can enact a character. You as the onlooker cannot tell if that person is them or if it’s a character they’re playing.

SLEEK: You make a reference to meta-community in the title of your work. What does that mean?

OSCFPID: I think that the real community, or the way in which we can really change and create community is actually by looking at ourselves first. So literally the work is re/enacting community within the community from a singular/cellular identity which creates the meta.

The meta-community is a concept or higher level of abstraction to our current ideas of community. It allows you to move quite swiftly between digital — on to offline, IRL to URL, in this case the museum to the storage, the audience to the abstract. It allows the hours of the community to flow and ebb as one unit producing. This is how I came to the ideology of the meta-community — all of these units are producing alongside each other, and that’s what gives the final outcome, our so-called meta state.

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SLEEK: You’re incorporating social media features into the institution itself to approach what you are getting at with the construction of community based on individual agency.

OSCFPID: Yeah, I think that’s exactly what I’m trying to do: mimic a revolution of digital/social life via IRL to URL. And of course, we can always speak about reality as everything that presents itself but do we even have a natural reality any longer? I guess that’s something I want to bring to the viewer, to un-inform their ideas of reality, and technologically un-arm their gaze, and show that everything’s is as real or as unreal as the other.

I guess that’s really the crux of why I use larp because, for me, your self is your largest commodity today. And it’s yours. “Un-” is the prefix to the “real,” and as soon as you understand where your real is and where you’re unreal is, I think you have a very powerful agency.

Scene Afterform Bonafide Sites and the Meta Community from PUNK IS DADA on Vimeo.
Video Credits: Scene Afterform: Bona-fide Sites and the Meta Community 🙂 2016 Omsk Social Club. Music Produced by PUNK IS DADA and Vonverhille

 

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