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Ashna Jacob | Amateur Hour: 24-Hour Edition


Video Still Amateur Hour.jpg

Ashna Jacob’s culminating performance, Amateur Hour: 24-Hour Edition will take place from Friday, September 13 at 6pm to Saturday, September 14 at 6pm. Visitors are welcome to view or participate in the performance during regular gallery hours or by appointment with Jacob. There will also be a closing reception for Jacob’s residency in the Garage on Saturday, September 14 from 5-7pm.

Amateur Hour: 24 Hour Edition is a 24-hour performance that parodies societal pressures to “make it” in a world of capitalist expectations using a video accompanied board game. The game draws on social and economic structures that attempt to rule over everyday life, taking inspiration from The Game of LIFE, VCR board games such as Nightmare and Party Mania, and 90s infomercials from the US and India. The artist plays the hour-long game 24 times over the one day period, the goal being to complete the game before the hour is up. The artist is only allowed to sleep or leave the board if she beats the game before the end of the hour, making the consequences of losing the game real for the artist. 

Inspired by the history of board games that saw them evolve into didactic tools, dispensers of spiritual advice, or simply a representation of their respective era, Amateur Hour follows the tradition of board games that both reinforce and mock the abstract rules that govern the path of everyday life. The game begins with promising economic success at completion, and throughout the hour gets more threatening and self contradictory by endangering the player’s virtual livelihood, social status and survival. The performance looks at social structures that glorify property ownership, social climbing and the everyday capitalist grind to “succeed”, which through the game devolve into a struggle for survival. Amateur Hour also draws on the notions of “faking it”, of feeling inadequate, and questions whether it is the player or the game that is broken. 

“From my time researching board games during the Garage residency, I became interested in the capacity of the board game as a media form of its own right, that has been used from ancient times to present day to simulate political, economical and social systems of the time, often to reinforce or mock these systems. From fortune telling Tarot cards, games that evolved into religious rituals like Senet, variations on chess that were evangelical tools of the church, to games of the present day that are used in relationship counselling, the “mini-universe” of the game board allows people to replicate the dealings of the larger world. At times this miniature world seems aspirational, and at times, it intentionally or unintentionally makes a mockery of the system it represents.”