Issue #32, 2009

Set Sail for the Levant
Olivia Plender

The fault is great in man or woman
Who steals a goose from off a common;
But who can plead that man’s excuse
Who steals a common from a goose?

The Game begins and you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being a poor Commoner, whom circumstances have forced off the Land and obliged to take to the road. The Rural Mansions which by ancient right you once enjoyed have been enclosed; that pretty Plot of Ground like a Meadow, the little Rib of Tillage for Bread-Corn and Slender Orchards where formerly you grazed your Goose. An Act of Parliament dictates that henceforth profit-à-prendre is no more and in this Golden Valley (as in every other) the Fields, Fens and Forests are now for the sole use of The Gentry and The Clergy. You stand accused of laziness, being independent of the Cash Oeconomy and therefore unwilling to make your labour available for hire. Common Custom is destroyed, Good Neighbours can no longer offer succour in times of want, so throw yourself naked on the Charity of The Parish or migrate to The City in order to seek The Wage. At the start of The Game you receive ten Gold Pieces and a Loaf of Bread from the sale of all your possessions, but are immediately obliged to pay two Gold Pieces to the authorities in lieu of rent before you can embark on a Journey.

A Board Game about Debt Based on the ancient Royal and Entertaining Game of the Goose played by Francesco de’ Medici, the Grand Duke of Tuscany

Olivia Plender is an artist based in London. Her research-based practice has addressed subjects ranging from the BBC’s early history to social and religious movements such as Modern Spiritualism. Drawing on social history and historiography, within her installations, performances, videos and publications, she interrogates the ideological framework around the narration of history and the legitimacy of the knowledge produced within an academic context versus “illegitimate” knowledge, often produced within a religious framework by amateurs and auto-didacts. Recent projects include Machine Shall be the Slave of Man, but We Will Not Slave for the Machine which focussed on the Kibbo Kift Kindred, a British youth movement that existed between 1920 and 1951 who were radicalised during the economic crisis of the 1930s into a nationalist monetary reform movement called “The Green Shirts”. Originally a left-wing outdoor education programme, which formed after a split from the Boy Scouts, the movement encompassed ideas including: a belief in the importance of “play” as a learning tool for adults and children alike, gender equality, nudism, theosophy and vegetarianism. Meanwhile several other recent projects, such as Ken Russell in Conversation with Olivia Plender and Monitor, focussed on the early history of the BBC, interrogating the remit to “inform, educate and entertain”, in order to initiate a self-reflexive discussion of the educational aims of the contemporary art institution. She has exhibited internationally, in exhibitions including Altermodern: Tate Triennial 2009, Tate Britain; The Greenroom, Hessel Museum of Art, CCS Bard, New York, 2008; The Great Transformation, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt, 2008; Not Quite How I Remember It, The Power Plant, Toronto, 2008; Information, Education, Entertainment, Marabou Parken Annex, Stockholm, 2007. Her graphic novel A Stellar Key to the Summerland was published by Bookworks in 2007.