Labour, technophobia, donkeys, and sharing the load of revolution: asses.masses is a long-form participatory performance that follows the epic journey of unemployed asses as they navigate the perils of a post-Industrial society in which they’ve been made redundant.
At its core, asses.masses is a custom-made video game designed to be played on stage by a live audience. Brave spectators take turns each night stepping forward from the herd to seize the means of production and become the player. There are no instructions: it is up to the audience and their self-elected leaders to make decisions and play out their version of the game.
Cheeky, political, and best described as Animal Farm meets Aesop’s Fables retold by Franz Kafka, Karl Marx, and Sonic the Hedgehog, asses.masses puts the control(ler) in the audience’s hands and asks them to discover the space between the work that defines us and the play that frees us.
Additional information about the project: www.assesmasses.work
Patrick Blenkarn (he/him) is an artist working at the intersection of performance, game design, and visual art. Frequently making use of interactivity, his research-based practice revolves around the themes of language, labour, and economy, with projects ranging in form from video games and card games to stage plays and books. His work has been featured in performance festivals, galleries, museums, and film festivals across Canada and internationally. He has a degree in philosophy, theatre, and film from the University of King's College and an MFA from Simon Fraser University. His writings on politics and performance have appeared in Performance Matters, Theatre Research in Canada, GUTS, SpiderWebShow, and Canadian Theatre Review. Patrick is also the co-founder of and a key archivist for videocan.
Milton Lim (he/him) is a Vancouver-based media artist and performance creator. His research-based practice entwines publicly available data, interactive digital media, and gameful performance to create speculative visions and candid articulations of social capital. This line of inquiry aims to reconsider our repertoires of knowledge aggregation and political intervention in the contemporary context of big data and algorithmic culture. His work has been presented across Canada, and internationally in the US, Argentina, the UK, Singapore, and Australia. Milton is a Co-Artistic Director of Hong Kong Exile, Artistic Associate with Theatre Conspiracy, key archivist with videocan, and part of the AI-focussed collective, Synectic Assembly. He was also a recent Sessional Instructor for Simon Fraser University’s theatre program.
The National Creation Fund’s investment of $113,000 supports the final leg of project development, including the expansion of the creative team to include professional game developers who will help refine visuals and revise programming. The Fund will also be used to translate the English version into French, Spanish, and Portuguese, making it tour-ready across four languages.
Developed with support from the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts, The Theatre Centre, BC Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, VIVO Media Arts, the Embassy of Canada to Argentina and Paraguay, and the National Arts Centre’s National Creation Fund.
February 2023: World premiere at La Usina del Arte as part of the Festival Internacional de Buenos Aires