Posted by Tristan on:
Artist Elizabeth Folk, literally takes a playful approach to interacting with her audience in her current work at the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum (CAF). Just Play!, is an interactive performance in which Folk explores the economies of labor, space, and class. Folk takes advantage of CAF’s setting in Paseo Nuevo Mall where, shoppers suspend disbelief that they are in a mall. Just Play! Restaurant is a highly artificial environment made up of three spaces–fine dining, corporate restaurant, and diner–each being respectively smaller. At the outset of the game all players are equal., Folk aims to democratize visitors. Like the German playwright Bertolt Brecht, Folk sees performance as a platform for political ideas and the creation of a critical aesthetics. As visitors are assigned an amount of money and a dining space they play the appropriate part in the game, as does Folk who waits on all three spaces in corresponding costume.
Through game Folk is able to explore the way in which we take on roles and learn to navigate society. Play is the earliest form of pedagogy. Children learn culturally acceptable behavior and roles–of gender and class–through play. Visitors may find themselves playing a familiar role in an awkward environment or have the opportunity to try on a new role. In any case, the audience finds the normal experience of eating de-familiarized, becoming hyper aware of the re-contextualized surroundings and interactions, in the gallery, Paseo Nuevo and hopefully beyond.
Folk will be at CAF Thursday through Sunday during normal gallery hours (11 AM–5 PM) to give her performance and interact with visitors.