An endurance performance devised by Harrison to coincide with the 2010 UK general election. Four ‘players’ represented the main political parties – each attempting to drink one shot of lager for every seat in parliament their party won, live as the results came in throughout the night.
Project website

General Election Drinking Game was a live endurance performance conceived by Harrison as a way of creating an alternative commentary on the results of the 2010 UK general election. It was performed by Harrison, Oliver Braid, Harriet Plewis and Paul Knight on the 6th May 2010 at the Star and Shadow in Newcastle from 23:00 – 4:00.

At the start of the night the four sober ‘players’ drew straws to see who would represent which political party (Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and all other parties / independents). They then sat in a line as though pundits in a panel discussion and attempted to drink one shot of lager for every seat in parliament their party won, live as the results came in throughout the night. The level of intoxication of each player became proportional to the success of their party (until it all turned too messy to monitor).

The performance was webcast throughout the night – offering an alternative visualisation of the election results to that of the mainstream media. Viewers were able to interact with the performance via a live internet chatroom. The full archive of the webcast footage and chatroom discussions can be viewed by clicking on the links to the right under ‘Further Reference’.

Ellie became interested in the possibility of using drunkenness as a creative tool for commenting of life in ‘Control society’, following her decision to give up alcohol for the first time in her adult life on 1st January 2010. She became teetotal in an attempt to master complete ‘control’ over every aspect of her life and to ‘maximise’ every moment of her time. (The motivations behind this decision were discussed in her lecture Hedonism vs. Asceticism: A Control Freak’s Guide to the MFA, which took place at the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow on 16 March 2010). After several months of abstaining, Ellie decided to break her vows by putting herself forward as one of the ‘players’ in General Election Drinking Game.

There was a lot of speculation in the run up to the 2010 UK general election that it would result in the first ‘hung parliament’ since 1974. This did turn out to be the case, prompting artist Tony Kemplen to comment that “the drunken shambles seemed a perfect comment on the outcome!” This election was also likely to be the last to take this format before a UK referendum on voting reform.

Harrison screened the full archive of the General Election Drinking Game webcast (5 hours, 35 minutes) at the Glue Factory in Glasgow every day for the duration of the MFA Degree Show 2010. You can view more information about these screenings in gallery handout.

Photo: Ilana Mitchell