Congratulations! @ This is Water
Congratulations! was featured in the exhibition This Is Water at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery in May and June, 2015.
Congratulations! is a maze/puzzle that was produced in three different formats during the spring of 2015. The puzzle was called Congratulations! because that was the word that was centered in large bold letters, at the top of the email that notified me of my acceptance into the MFA program. Made for the 2015 Fine Arts Graduate Student Colloquium, its first iteration was a 48” square colour ‘academic poster’ set up on the 8th floor landing for students to play. A nearby table with crayons and dice also had 11×17 paper copies. A third version—with cut vinyl, stickers and paint—was installed in April 2015 for the group exhibition This is Water: Emerging Practices in Contemporary Art at the SAAG.
Congratulations! asked players to assume the role of a University of Lethbridge graduate student, and make their way through a day in the Centre for the Arts. As players moved through the maze, they would periodically come to a ‘room’, where their roll of a d6 die would determine which direction they should go. The maze’s action attempted to mimic and work through the social contract of being a student: it required repeated choices about how to participate—including if and when to break rules, backtrack and try again, or quit. Additionally, it modeled non-traditional movement through spaces by asking players to break what are understood as a maze’s unspoken rules (e.g. make an unbroken path, no crossing lines or doubling back). As players moved through the space through both choice and chance, Congratulations! frustrated and subverted expectations of what constitutes ‘appropriate’ engagement with the unspoken rules of the game.