The Game of Tag
09 September–14 October 200609 Sep–14 Oct 2006
Polish artist Artur Zmijewski examines human nature at its most revealing and vulnerable. In his video The Game of Tag a group of people—variously aged, sexed and shaped—play tag in the nude in two locations. They go through a variety of attitudes. Sometimes the game is fast and furious, sometimes slow. Some players seem at ease, others ashamed; some giggle, others are focussed. At the end we learn the two locations are the basement of a private home and a former concentration camp gas chamber. Zmijewski writes: ‘In this small house made of concrete, where people were killed with Cyklon B, huge yellowish navy-blue bruises made by the gas were still visible on the walls.’ The Game of Tag presents a conundrum: how to read it? We can only speculate as to why the director and his cast members are doing this and what their personal relation to the Holocaust might be. Are they simply seeking to shock us? Are we to read it as an allegory, with participants locked in a conflict oblivious of a common external threat? Or perhaps the point is that they are exorcising anxiety around a history of genocide through play. The Game of Tag is a psychology experiment in which the viewer is also playing a part. Zmijewski represented Poland at the last Venice Biennale.