Dr. Kate Lassiter, assistant professor in Religious and Pastoral Studies, invited Cincinnati-based artist Kate Tepe to perform her piece “Off-Line Dating Game,” on the first day of her REL 339/539 Seminar in Spirituality: Critical Issues in Human Sexuality course at Mount St. Joseph University.
The game is an interactive, viewer-central work that critiques the use of social media to establish intimacy – especially among popular dating forums. The cards in the game have six different categories all based on familiar social media devices. They push participants' comfort zones by interacting physically and asking personal questions.
During the class, students rotated their desks toward each other and sat in an intimate circle, asking one another questions from the game. Some students' faces turned red, some went silent, some drew a blank, some ranted on, some giggled –but all of them paused to think. And that’s what good art does. It causes reflection, which is the intention of Tepe’s Off-Line Dating Game.
In this digital age we are communicating more, but the question of if we are really understanding and knowing each other better is debated. The game encourages face-to-face dialogue to let down the wall between others and ourselves that social media and other forms of technology have built.
After attending the “Off-Line Dating Game” performative piece at the Contemporary Art Center, Dr. Lassiter invited Tepe to come to the Mount and speak to her class. The game served as an interactive way for other students to get to know one another on a deeper level and to create a safe space to discuss ideas and themes throughout the remainder of the course.
Tepe initially created the game for the players to reflect how they think about and identify themselves, as well as other people. “I’m interested in getting people to reach a broader level of intimacy in a fun and thoughtful way,” says Tepe.
In context of the course, the game allowed students to question how they contextualize race, gender, sexuality and relationships and what it means in terms of spirituality.
“My intention was to open a space for conceiving sexuality, as well as gender and desire, as something dynamic and performative,” says Dr. Lassiter.