Sixteen Tons

installation with Nathalie Pozzi, 2010


In Sixteen Tons, four players use real money to pay for each others' labor, dragging heavy sections of steel pipe in a life-sized board game. Each turn, players bid on each other's labor, using bluffing and psychological tactics to get their pieces into a winning position.

Named after the folk song about indentured workers, Sixteen Tons is a game about labor that inverts the ease and fun of traditional gameplay. The enclosed space within the paper walls creates an intense betting pit within the white walls of the museum space.

Sixteen Tons was commissioned for the Art History of Games conference in Atlanta and has also appeared in LACE Los Angeles, IndieCade Los Angeles, Soma Arts Festival San Francisco, the Museum of Design Atlanta, and the NYU Game Center in New York City. Special thanks to John Sharp for the original commission.

photo credit: Nathalie Pozzi