600 Artists Submitted Ideas for Creative Time’s Latest Commission. The Winner? A High-Concept ‘Escape Room’

Creative Time has revealed the winner of its debut Open Call program. New York-based artist Risa Puno will make a public escape room that requires participants to solve puzzles on their way out.

“I see this project as the starting point for conversations,” Puno tells artnet News. “Escape rooms are all about teamwork, letting go of assumptions, and seeing things from a new perspective, so I believe this format has real potential to spark discussion and communication that continues beyond the game itself.”

Puno was one in a pool of 600 applicants from across all five boroughs. Her proposal was chosen by a committee of six jurors: artist and educator Paul Ramirez Jonas, artist Spencer Finch, Spaceworks director Risa Shoup, curator Rashida Bumbray, artist Pablo Helguera, and Brooklyn Museum vice-chairwoman Stephanie Ingrassia. The three most common proposals were for performance art pieces, sculptural works, and interactive installations.

The 40-year-old public art organization put out the call last December, looking for “ideas that take unconventional exhibition formats, speak to a pressing social issue, and engender public dialogue,” the initiative’s website explains.

Risa Puno, The Course of Emotions: A Mini-Golf Experience (2013-14). Courtesy of the artist.

“In surveying the landscape of contemporary public art it became clear that many of the same artists are repeatedly receiving major commissions,” said Justine Ludwig, Creative Time’s executive director, in a statement. “We wanted to disrupt that narrative by opening up the opportunity to work with Creative Time to the next generation of greats working in the field.”

Puno was born in 1981 in Louisville, Kentucky, and now lives in New York. Her work often takes the form of playful, interactive installations. In 2013-14, for instance, she created a fully operational mini-golf course filled with obstacles representing different emotional states, such as depression, frustration, or jealousy. Last year, she made “One from Many,” a six-sectioned cast-iron pan that allows communal meals to mix together.

Risa Puno, One from Many (2018). Courtesy of the artist.

“Risa shares Creative Time’s mission in presenting art that sparks dialogue and addresses the timely topic of social dynamics,” says Ludwig. Just as we feel the public is important in making art accessible, we believe that institutions such as Creative Time can play a major part in supporting emerging artists.”

The date and location of Puno’s project will be announced in the coming months.

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