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This game of “telephone” for artists spans the entire world.


March 31, 2021, 12:39pm

Okay, here’s a concept that makes you wish you’d invented it: a group of artists has turned the simple game of telephone—where a message is whispered from person to person, changing as it travels—into an global art project. Over the past year, more than 950 artists from 70 countries have participated in an artistic game of telephone, in which a message was passed from art form to art form; the message could move from poem to painting to film to dance as it was passed over seven million kilometers between nearly 500 cities. Launched at the first peak of the pandemic, in a time of isolation, TELEPHONE is a timely method of forging surprising connections between artists all over the world.

Unlike the traditional game, TELEPHONE branches out like a family tree; each artwork is “whispered” to two or three other artists, who translate it into their art forms. Halfway through the game, that method is reversed and several works are assigned to a single artist to synthesize—so the game ends as it started, with a single work of art. Participating artists range from Guggenheim Fellows and Pulitzer Prize winners to virtual unknowns, from professors to students, but the project is managed by a small ten-member internal team, all volunteering their time without compensation. (The entire cost of the sizable exhibition is $150.)

An interactive, online exhibition of all the works created during the game of telephone will be made available for free to the public on April 10th at 9am EST at this link. Get excited! Call your friends to let them know too! Just make sure you speak clearly.

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