PORTABLE CLOSETS by Kyle Alden Martens


Issue 013, Volume Four | Summer 2018


“Understanding the Turtleneck” is a game played among friends and strangers. It’s a gathering where genders collide and minds drop. Bodies change; the game shifts the perspectives of participating players and makers through a process of change and body-conversation. There comes a point of no return. It is essential to keep in mind that the rules are not set and that the minds and positions can change within seconds of the game commencing. The change is up to the participants, and rules can be interpreted however the players decide. The only prerequisite guidelines are simple and open: the bodies are to listen and learn from one another with no judgment or hate. Don’t hide what might have a negative effect the other. Be open to the chance of smell and the odour of both the slippers and the equipment. Stay loose and don’t worry too much about the dirt.

  1. Every individual/collective is welcome to participate.
  2. The rules are not set in stone, but rather in the turtlenecks.
  3. With turtlenecks the players will move forward as instructed by one another.
  4. The players will have a choice with whom they will play with.
  5. When the players have been chosen, through the actions and the movements of each player’s perspective, the pieces move in unison and then separate, and then come together again.
  6. The players will need to learn to read one another in order to move to the next stage of the game.
  7. Learning and reading one another will determine the positions each player is comfortable with taking. Players also have a choice to not choose one or the other, but have the option to dabble in both.
  8. The participants will have an option to play with slippers, locks, slippers inside slippers, sweatpants with holes, hoodies with holes, socks filled with bird seeds, mini turtlenecks, mini non turtlenecks, mini sweatpants, and jigsaw pieces with bumps inside slippers.  
  9. At this point in the game, the players know what they require of one another. One player will choose to be a receiver and the other will handle the equipment (the participants are allowed to switch at any point if they so desire).
  10. The receiver is the mediator of the game—they keep the player with the equipment in line, ensuring they are not misusing the equipment.
  11. All the accessories (listed above) are fragile and need to be handled with care.
  12. The players start the game by taking everything off the accessory they have chosen, and put it back together with the help of another.
  13. The players need to keep in mind the colours of the chosen accessories: moss green goes with moss green, light orange with light orange, purple with purple, pink with pink, navy blue with navy blue, and so on.
  14. The players are allowed to tease the slippers before using their equipment. This will establish trust between the players as well as the intention of the player with the equipment.
  15. The participants are advised to make eye contact with each other for bonding time.
  16. The slippers are empty at the beginning of the game until one of the players on the field takes the matching equipment and carefully inserts it into the fitting hole.
  17. The equipment has to be handled carefully by the person operating it for maximum hunky-dory points.
  18. If the equipment is handled otherwise, it will hurt the receiver and participants will be forced to come up with new rules. This will result in a re-setting of the game (keeping in mind the new rules created by the receiver) or ending the game all together. The choice is up to the receiver.
  19. If the game is played with sincerity, this will create a sense of belonging and love among the players.
  20. The game is free of time limits so players will not be too focused on the length of each other’s moves.
  21. Keeping the time would only cause distractions and would not allow the players to enjoy the sensations that the game provides.
  22. Once the players are satisfied with the results of their collaboration in putting the accessory back together, they may go for another round after taking a water break.
  23. The second round is mostly for those who want to try playing both roles and those who might want to play with a different player.
  24. The players are allowed to go for as many rounds as they want (with different players if desired) if the chemistry between them is right.

 This game is designed to establish an open, judgment-free, shame-free, safe space among players from diverse backgrounds.

(This game does not discriminate against people who do not have turtlenecks.)

Play safe! 


Portable Closets by Kyle Alden Martens was shown at Stride Gallery (Calgary, AB) from March 23–May 11, 2018. Martens will be exhibiting Portable Closets at Centre Clark (Montréal, QC) from September 7-October 13, 2018, and at the Eastern Edge Gallery (St. John's, NL) from October 27–November 24, 2018.

Kyle Alden Martens (b.1989) is an interdisciplinary artist based in Montréal. He graduated from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University in 2015 with a BFA in Intermedia. He has worked as an Arts Administrator (NS Centre for Craft and Design), Installer (Anna Leonowens Gallery), and Gallery Assistant (Art Gallery of Swift Current). Martens has presented work with the Khyber Centre for the Arts, Eyelevel Gallery, and the Centre for Art Tapes in Halifax, NS and Stride Gallery in Calgary, AB. You can find him online, studying french, or working in his studio.


Sign up to be notified when our next issue is released, or follow us on Twitter.