project image
Jason Barker

first performed on July 19, 2015
Latitude Festival, Henham Park, Suffolk, UK
performed once in 2015


London, UK


A durational playing of video games between cancer patients and army veterans. Lovingly and humorously emceed by hosts Brian Lobel and Holestar throughout, “CANCER DEATH MATCH” explored the prevalence, un/usefulness, and violence of battle/war metaphors used in cancer discourses.

Over six hours, two teams—CANCER and MILITARY—played classic two-person fighting games on Nintendo, SNES, Genesis/Megadrive; games such as Mortal Kombat, Mario Kart, Street Fighter, and Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Their games were given a competitive edge through the consistent commentary of Holestar, who shouted, provoked, led cheers, and made sure all players kept drinking and playing.

Outside the playing area, Brian asked passersby if they ever had cancer or ever served in the military. If they answered positively, they were invited to play alongside the established teams. If they answered that they had never been in the military, nor had they had cancer, they were invited to cheer on a team of their choice.

Brian asked cheering audience members to write the most ignorant thing they’d ever said to someone with an illness on a placard, and were then told that they could only cheer using the language present in the placards. The consistent chorus’ of “You’re an Inspiration!” “Do it for your family!” “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!” recreated the painful and consistent barrage of vapid language experienced by those with illness, in a playful and pointed way.