In the traditional version of Musical Chairs, the music pauses. Ten Littles scramble for a place to sit. But – only nine chairs! So, one of the Smalls is left standing. The Bigs then remove another chair. The music starts up and the nine Smalls mill round nervously. Then the music stops and another is unable to find a seat. This continues until the most agile and aggressive among them claims the last chair and wins.
The Littles won’t be putting up with this indefinitely. Sooner or later they will ask: “Who made up this story? Why aren’t there enough chairs?” Eventually, “Because this is how the game is played” won’t be a good enough answer any more.
Now, the rules have changed. In this version of Musical Chairs, there are enough resources for everybody, extra chairs even, for the smallest, slowest, most mild-mannered of us.
The question is: If there really are not enough chairs to go around, how do we want to deal with this? By forcing the smallest to fight each other for a seat at the table? Notice the Bigs seem to have enough chairs. Do we like to live in a world in which the Littles don’t?
Yes, it’s about scarcity and sharing and inequality and generosity and fear and tolerance. It’s about space at the table. Food. Health care. Housing. Not to mention respect, kindness, love, peace. It’s about trees. Not to mention oceans. Birds. Elephants. Flowers.
PS. Of course, everything is about everything.
Installation description: Some of the Musical Chairs pieces hang on the walls, but the free-standing ones are on turntables, on pedestals. Chairs on low pedestals, on turntables too. As in the children’s game, the music will pause. This will be timed to coincide with a pause in the rotation of the turntables. 30 seconds on, 5 seconds off etc.