MeetFactory, o. p. s.
Ke Sklárně 3213/15
150 00 Praha 5
13:00 do 20:00 + based on evening program
MeetFactory - a space to live art //
Gallery. Residency. Theatre. Music.
10. 12. -
7. 2. 2016
Curator: Jaro Varga
Opening: 10. 12. 2015, 7.30pm
Artists: Olaf Breuning (CH), Zuzanna Janin (PL), Pawel Kruk (USA), Annika Larsson (SWE), Jean-Ulrick Désert (Haiti), Shaun Leonardo (USA), Anetta Mona Chişa & Lucia Tkáčová (SK), Assa Kauppi (SWE)
In a well-known conversation with Laurence Olivier taken during the shooting of the Marathon Man (1976), Dustin Hoffman explains the dividing line between acting and living, between reality and simulation. He says he did not sleep for several days to be able to realistically render the character of Thomas Levy. Thus he could better identify with the role of a man at the end of his both mental and physical strength. Olivier asks him: “Why don’t you just try acting?”
Sporting events are often likened to theatre and sportsmen to actors on stage. Sport, similar to theatre, is a small-size performance of different social patterns. It happens on the level of an artificial simulation of social schemes, where, orchestrated by strict rules, by victory and loss, its consequence is not real injustice as it happens in real life, but it rather works on a symbolic level.
Roland Barthes relates Ancient Theater to wrestling by means of “emphasis” (emotional excitement), which is the constituent component of both. He refers to wrestling not as a sport but as a performance: “To watch a depiction of pain in wrestling is no more ignoble than to follow the suffering of Arnolf or Andromache”. Emotions are to be found on top of this performance. After a failure athletes show emotions of self-destruction, aggression and pain in front of the viewers. For instance in wrestling the fighter exaggerates, saturating the eye of the spectator with an almost unbearable view of defeat. The gesture of a defeated fighter does not conceal the failure; quite on the contrary, it is being highlighted and solemnly observed as a rest in music. In wrestling the actors are not ashamed to show pain, they can cry and even enjoy their grief.
How real is what we follow during sporting events? And can it be “acted” at all? To what extent are emotions eliminated by the performative meta-reality of the sports arena? Joy, pain, aggression, disappointment and other emotional expressions do not remain only within sportsman’s subjective experience; their experiencing is publicly performed and thus affecting the experience of the whole arena and all its components – sportsmen, visitors, sports coaches and managers, media, TV and radio audiences, artists. Emotions at some point can become an effective political instrument.
The artists exhibiting at "Who Is Playing?" try to tune in to the roles of sportsmen and the sports world. They investigate hidden effects of emotions, the formal and performative aspect of experiencing defeat, or the manipulative handling of tense situations with the aim to stir up “emphasis” in the viewers. They apprehend sporting emotions as an important motive with the potential to culminate in an individual or collective protest.
Zuzanna Janin in her video performance called "Fight" presents an emotionally charged boxing match with a professional boxer Przemyslaw Saleta. The match was preceded by several months of preparatory coaching undertaken by the artist. Janin uses boxing as a metaphor of life, which is a constant duel and play of emotions in human relationships.
Pawel Kruk in his work “Manipulator” assumes the identity of Michael Jordan, imitating his gestures, mimics and sporting movements, to further develop the legend’s myth by means of identifying himself with this famous sportsperson. Kruk is interested in the established patterns of how sports idols are being construed and how their world works.
Olaf Breuning in his work “Double” presents two tennis players in two copies, with facial masks made of big tennis balls. Breuning reveals, by means of an ironic shortcut, the relationship between the media image and the private, hidden face of the sports people.
Assa Kauppi in her work "The Race is Over" drops a subtle probe into the emotional experiencing of children swimmers just before the beginning of a swimming contest. Kauppi takes interest in the principles of competition, victory or loss. The sporting children display delicacy, openness and immunity to emotional manipulation.
Annika Larsson in her video “Hockey” presents an obscure match between two anonymous hockey teams in the absence of spectators. The artist’s main focus is the ritual essence of the game, accompanied by a variety of visual representations, logos, brands and symbols. Annika Larsson presents an analysis and inconspicuous manipulation of details of a sporting match.
Jean-Ulrick Désert in his work “Passion” displays a series of photographic portraits of football fans dressed in traditional fan costumes. However the author has produced colorless copies of the original costumes, deprived of all color decorations representing mainly national colors of the teams. Désert unveils the stereotypes of sports culture and the mainstream identification of fans with the patriotic pathos of a sports show.
The focal point of Shaun Leonardo’swork is a thesis that sports, like theater, can be performed according to a premeditated scenario. The author deals with different principles of experiencing loss that are encoded and repeatedly lived in the conduct of both sportspersons and their audiences. The “Orchestra of Failure” reflects upon the issue of social pressure in achieving individual victories.
The huge inflatable fist by Anetta Mona Chişa & Lucie Tkáčová, a work called “Either Way, We Lose”, resembles a mass amusement article symbolizing failed revolutions, whose residues invaded the entertainment industry. The fist is a kind of juxtaposition to a sports match where the amusing edge has prevailed over the collective or individual protest of its actors.
The exhibition is being organized in cooperation with MeetFactory and Czech Olympic Committee, supported by CzechTourism.
Press photos here.