Enchanted Forest

This summer's Sonsbeek International Sculpture Exhibition, held in Dutch city of Arnhem, takes on the theme of "Grandeur" for its 2008 edition, described on the festival's site as "the aspiration for human greatness" and "the urge, the dream, the conflict and the struggle that are linked to this aspiration." For American artist Brody Condon's contribution to this year's event, this conflict and struggle will be fought out in the woods, using home-made weapons and armor. Condon conceived of -- and is currently overseeing -- a site-specific live-action role-playing game entitled SonsbeekLive: The Twentyfivefold Manifestation, taking place in seven week-long games that began last month. Players gather in Arnhem's woody Sonsbeek Park to enact a retro-futuristic scenario set in a neo-medieval far future. Condon describes the visual style of the event as "think leather and plastic", and local builders have erected a temporary woodland-mod encampment tower for housing, complete with Japanese-style sleeping pods. The enacted narrative involves small bands composed of pre-determined character types -- Herald, Band Leader, Duel Master, and Ritual Master/Shaman and Archivist -- competing with one another inside the holy forest of Sonsbeek for the favors of the Immortals, godlike beings who grant humans the gifts of technology. SonsbeekLive continues Condon's longstanding interest in blurring games and life, and proposes a re-evaluation of LARPing from mere nerd kitsch to theatrical art. The games continue through September, and folks in the Netherlands can still sign up for upcoming weeks; those who can't attend can peek via player-generated media and the official Dutch weblog. - Ed Halter

Image: Players in SonsbeekLive: The Twentfivefold Manifestation, from the official weblog