The artist Risa Puno is the designer of ‘The Privilege of Escape’, an art installation at Onassis in Midtown Manhattan with the aim to use a disarmingly playful environment to create pathways of exchange and understanding around the topic of social inequity.

Subverting the format of a escape room, Puno has constructed an experience that encourages participants to think about how privilege functions in society – and to what end. The term ‘privilege’ is loaded and confusing for many, often triggering strong emotions that undermine constructive conversations. Inspired by the game of life, where societal rules are often arbitrary, fixed, and unfair, The Privilege of Escape showcases Puno’s ability to introduce complex social issues through play, innovative game design, and puzzle logic.

Escape rooms are live-action games where players work together to find clues, complete puzzles, and solve their way out of a room before time runs out. To win, players must let go of assumptions and reorient their perspective in order to understand the prescribed environment. It is, at times, frustrating, exhilarating, stressful, and fun. Puno’s goal is to use the disarming environment to create pathways of exchange and understanding around complex topics, distilling them from their real world applications and placing them within the context of a thrilling game with the ultimate hope that the experience makes space for open-minded dialogue, and that participants develop a fundamental understanding of what privilege is.