Giuseppe Stampone, Play (2010)

It costs 10p to play. When you plug your money in the coinslot, five speakers strike up an orchestral version of The Star Spangled Banner. The speakers are black and shaped like coffins.

This seems like an attack on video game culture. For some £30-40 you can buy highly realistic battle simulators such as Call of Duty or Medal of Honour. Play all you like.

Chances are you will be fighting on the side of the Americans, but are we all not doing likewise every time we participate in the free market economy. It is not too much of a jump from spending pounds and pence on light entertainment to also propping up the military-industrial complex.

We do not, of course, have a choice. Hence perhaps the cynicism of Giuseppe Stampone‘s work. It is completely unadorned, functional in an ugly way. It knows you will not be able to resist.

We could try and walk away, check out some of the other great work at Phase 5, but all the rest also has its place in the market. They are all to some extent sideshows. Perhaps the very wars referenced here are themselves a sideshow, a distraction from the play of high finance.

Play can be seen until Novermber 27 at Phase 5, a No Longer Empty exhibition, which forms part of the Liverpool Biennial. See Biennial website for further details.

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