Londonist Is "It"

By london_will Last edited 167 months ago
Londonist Is "It"

We Londonistas consider ourselves to be sophisticated, refined urbanites, and as such there's nothing we enjoy more than pelting around Hyde Park playing tag. It's art, you see.

No, really. Stop giggling at the back. It is art, but art in the post-Pickled Dead Shark sense, which is to say "something done by someone calling themselves an artist".


The artist in question is Tomoko Takahashi - that's her on the right of this picture, the one who looks a bit like the beastie from The Ring. She's got an exhibition on at the Serpentine consisting of a room filled with an insane jumble of childhood odds and sods, and what better way to top it off than to spend a spring evening playing tag and a variety of other playground favourites? Rob, Londonist's editor, and I simply had to attend. The pictures are from Rob's phone, so apologies for the quality.

Only this is tag with a difference. This was ultraviolet tag.


You'll notice that I'm wearing a rather fetching hat in this picture. It's long been an ambition of mine to look more like a burger- flipper, and I think finally the day has arrived. The playing area was bathed in UV light, and as dusk fell and the spring evening turned to night, soon the 60 shrieking children and art-types in the playing area would turn into a cloud of swooping, flocking and scattering fireflies on the overhead screens.


This man told us what to do, along with Tomoko. Notice his tall chef's hat with "it" written on it. That's the same hat the person who was "it" had to wear. The variant of tag we were playing was "chain tag", where if you are tagged you must join hands with the It, and only people with a free hand may tag. Presumably this was to avoid arguments, since my memory of playground tag is that the disputes grew so complex that they provided a thorough grounding in jurisprudence.


By an extraordinary coincidence, Rob was "It" first. You can see him in the big white hat in this picture as we watched the video replay of the first bout.

Other games, such as stick-in-the-mud, were played, and the crowd was one of those completely friendly and approachable good-natured gatherings that this city appears to be capable of assembling on a regular basis. There were also a fair number of young children present, a fact that surprised but also heartened me. What better way to get young kids thinking that art isn't always about silent galleries on a sunday afternoon, and sometimes involves laughing, running, shouting, and the absurd, all in an atmosphere of jovial conspiracy? The Art was almost a happy accident, an accidental by-product given off by the energy of the event like the radiation thrown off by fission. Maybe this was Tomoko's plan; the invitation to play games in Hyde Park was not a ruse designed to create art, but the art was a ruse to get a bunch of po-faced "sophisticated, refined urbanites" to come and play games in Hyde Park.

Either way, she deserves credit. For the amount of time this generation of "kidults" spends discussing its favourite kids' TV programmes and generally dissecting the popular culture like the Dead Sea Scrolls, precious little is actually done about it. To gather us, and let us play tag; that's a sophisticated thing to do. It's also fabulously childish. And I love it.

Last Updated 05 April 2005