A HAND IN THE GAME
digital video, color, sound, 35’ 08”, 2017, Sweden
Created by Hillevi Cecilia Högström
January 7 - 20 2022
introduced by Matteo Bittanti
A hand in the game is a video essay documenting the artist’s experience with SimPark (1996), a simulation published by Californian game company Maxis in which players cultivate and manage a successful park. Developed by Roxana Wolosenko and Claire Curtin, SimPark was explicitly targeted toward children: its objective was to educate the young about ecology and biodiversity. SimPark was accompanied by a 77-page manual which included tips on how to incorporate the game in the curriculum. Twenty years later, the artist intentionally tried to “mismanage the park enough to terminate all living things” in order to bring forth the simulation’s underlying ideology, which is grounded in capitalistic values and neoliberal imperatives. Specifically, Högström played four iterations — titled Termination 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 and 4.0 respectively — by altering the main variables, from the ratio between tropical, desert, and cold regions to the degree of animal agency, not to mention the effects of climate change upon the flora and fauna. The more she played, the more she realized that SimPark is deeply flawed: a supposedly pedagogical aid becomes a tool of disinformation.
Hillevi Cecilia Högström was born in 1994 in Jönköping, Sweden. She is currently completing her M.A. in Fine Arts at Malmö Art Academy. Previously, she received a B.A. in Fine Arts at the Iceland University of the Arts. Her work is concerned with the Anthropocene, which she defines as “the point in time where humans became an actual geological force capable of reforming the surface of the planet”, and its effects on the world. Her recent exhibitions include A Hand in the Game (solo, 2017), Bachelor Exhibition, Kubburin, Reykjavík, Iceland, and Full Vision (2020), Jönköpings länssmuseum, Jönköping, Sweden, Af stað!, Norræna Húsið, Reykjavík, Sweden (2019), and the 6th Moscow International Biennale for Young Art (2018), Main Project, Moscow, Russia. Her video works were featured at several international festivals, including EXiS (2021), Seoul, South Korea, and Impakt Algorithmic Superstructures (2018), Utrecht, Netherlands. Högström works and lives in Malmö, Sweden.