Denny does present New Zealand with an alternative to being a last resort for tech billionaires. Drawing on author Max Harris’s collectivist plan
for the country, the artist created a version of Twister where the colorful circles represent policy options such as a universal basic income, a zero carbon act, and decarceration. Denny’s version of Jenga likewise allows players to join in creating a tower made of blocks printed with value statements such as “deep concern for the environment is a part of care.”
Both games require people to come together in order to play. Denny’s Jenga pieces, though, don’t stack on top of one another as you’d expect. They slot into pieces of plexiglass, making them seem precarious, built on nothing. Harris’s vision, the work implies, is not grounded in reality.
The conflict between collectivist idealism and individualist pragmatism has intensified in recent years in the United States with the likes of Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pushing back against Wall Street and big tech. But it has its own distinct resonance in Christchurch, which is still recovering from a violent earthquake that did significant damage to the city in 2011. As residents, officials, businesses, and real-estate developers make competing claims on how to move forward, Strongman said “that tension in the city between forces of financial capital and the communitarian principle of grassroots rebuilding from the community, that has been very evident in the politics of the rebuild.”
In the wake of the Christchurch massacre, new debates are being held about gun rights, freedom of speech, and New Zealand’s refugee policy.