Ambitious worldwide game of telephone merges with KC artists

Derrick Breidenthal Studio

TELEPHONE: An International Arts Game is not your average elementary school telephone game. Over 950 artists from 70 countries, including local artists Derrick Breidenthal, Craig Auge, Terri Pollack, and Lorri Boydston, played a game of telephone in which a message was passed from art form to art form.

The message could become a painting, then a dance, then a film, then a poem as it was passed over 4.4 million miles between 489 cities. Each “message” would be whispered to two or three artists to interpret and the original TELEPHONE message is only known by a handful of staff members.

D Breidenthal Procession

Derrick Breidenthal’s painting // Photo courtesy Derrick Breidenthal

Participating artists only see the work preceding them and do not know how their work is translated. Approximately 65% of the artists are women and 60% of the artists are based in the U.S.

Derrick Breidenthal, a visual artist, interpreted the song “whispered” to him into a painting. Passing artwork hundreds of times can take a long time. Breidenthal had a month to complete his painting approximately eight months ago.

He says interconnecting artists and having an aerial view of 1,000 artists and their interactions with each other is spectacular. These artists can be high school students, newly emerging artists, Academy Award winners, elderly, or Pulitzer Prize winners.

The result of all of these artists coming together is the largest set of ekphrastic, the translation of one art form to another, artistic exchange in history. It is possible to see the game as 1,000 individual works of art or a single work of art by people around the world.

“The concept of it’s pretty simple but the conceptual ramification of it involving 1,000 people and involving multiple mediums of art is incredibly unique,” says Breidenthal.

The creation process allowed artists to better understand each art form, the neurological processes at work in translation, and how information is passed to each individual. Viewing the exhibit allows people to study how artists combine multiple influences simultaneously.

Breidenthal will not be able to see how his work was interpreted until TELEPHONE is available to the public April 10 at 9 a.m. EST, which can be viewed here. The project will have ran for 383 days on opening day after starting on March 23, 2020. A list of participating artists can be found here.

This exhibition will remain a monumental time capsule of what we have endured and overcome during the difficult year of 2020.

Categories: Art