Mieke Van de Voort: 627K

The Showroom presents 627K, a project by Dutch artist Mieke Van de Voort in collaboration with the Prince’s Trust and Quintin Kynaston School.

627K invited young people from the Prince’s Trust (aged 17–21) and students from Quintin Kynaston School to participate in a physical role-playing game that imagines the outbreak of a life-threatening disease in a fictional state. Thematic workshops, ranging from the sociological impact of infectious diseases to drama and improvisation techniques, led by specialists from the field, prepared the group for play. The final game performance was at The Cockpit Theatre, located in the Church Street neighbourhood.

Over a series of workshops, Van de Voort worked with the group to examine key themes such as ‘Fear’, ‘Risk’ and ‘Play’. Workshops ranged from practical advice on the prevention of infection to historical analysis of pandemics, exploring historical and cultural responses to infectious disease. ‘Play’ focused on game play strategy, performance techniques and exercises referring to pandemic situations and infectious diseases as a context.

627K is a compelling forum where complex philosophical dilemmas such as free will and our relationship to the ‘other’, and biomedical knowledge are explored. To win the game and stay alive participants need to work together as a team, utilising empathy, care and communication skills.

The final performance was filmed and screened to the public at a special event at The Showroom on 29 July 2010.

Van de Voort collaborated with a number of specialists to deliver the workshops including Dr Carole Reeves, Outreach Historian for The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL, Deena Blumenkrantz, scientist and PhD student at Imperial College specialising in Influenza, and artist Howard Matthew.

627K is the second in a trio of participation-based commissions taking place in 2010 under the umbrella title of Communal Knowledge. It was funded by the Mondriaan Foundation.

Communal Knowledge is generously supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, John Lyon’s Charity and Westminster Arts.


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