Nicholas Fraser

Ground Rules

performance & installation in Nizhny Tagil, Russia for the 2nd Ural Industrial Biennale



Ground Rules considers the difficulties of wholesale cultural changes in post-Soviet Russia.


In the industrial Siberian city of Nizhny Tagil, I recruited, trained and equipped two teams of softball players from workers at local steel factories. In a popular city park, a series of games were played on an improvised field. Inside the white chalk lines defining the field were translated texts of the ‘cardinal’ or ‘unwritten’ rules of the game.


Prior to each game, these rules were legible to the rookie participants. But once play commenced, the texts gradually smudged, smeared and disappeared. For these newly minted Russian players, direct experience supplants and obliterates the theoretic notions embedded in the chalk lines. Despite minimal training and no prior experience, knowledge of the game becomes less important than the willingness to try something unfamiliar, without concern if the results are pretty or professional.


Performance video