*Opening Reception Participatory Street Sporting Event by the Institute of Aesthletics
*Limited Edition Hyper Super Blooper Reel Commemorative DVD
*Exhibition Poster Catalog (Available at Schroeder Romero Gallery)
*Expanded archive of artworks, interviews and essays at www.themainevent.us
"Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words, it is war minus the shooting..."
-George Orwell, The Sporting Spirit
On July 12, 1972 a Chicago radio disc jockey strolled out to Comiskey Park’s center field dressed in Army fatigues. There, he gave a brief rallying declaration before detonating a box filled with thousands of disco records. The 50,000 baseball fans in attendance promptly stormed the field and began rioting. Order was not restored until the Chicago riot squad arrived at the stadium to haul people away and put out the fires.
Almost two thousand years earlier, at a stadium in Rome, Emperor Commodus crafted his public image in the light of the warrior Hercules, defeating all challengers in gladiatorial battles. These contests reinforced his status as the protector of Rome, a god on Earth.
This year, we will experience two competitions at the world’s highest levels: the Games of the XXIX Olympiad in Beijing, and the American presidential election. With each of these events we see athletics and games intertwined with issues of human rights, war, corporate branding, and power. As these two spectacles unfold they will be framed and understood through narratives of heroes and villains, triumph and defeat.
Inspired by these two historic contests, The Main Event draws from across the spectrum of human competition to explore the ways in which the spheres of sports and athletics penetrate and intermingle with the larger world. From Roman gladiators to baseball riots, sports provide a stage for humans to dramatize their conflicts, express societal values, promote ideology, and configure public space.
In the absurdist video from their episodic collaboration The Go Show Maria Dumlao, Jane Johnston & Elaine Kaufmann
lambast the “league” of galleries, and the competitive world of artist trading by making analogy to the selection of players in the NBA draft. The art world, like the world of professional sports is ruthless, and has proven to quickly turn it's back on those whose performance is not consistently up to par. Alex Brown
crafts intricate battle scenes based on historical, and imagined contests of human competition. Brown's armies highlight the absurdity and futility of war as well as our nostalgic romanticization of it. Drawn from video games and books, rather than the chaos of the embattled world at large, his figures appear almost figurines chaotically spilled across the global game board. Rob Carter's
photographs address “...the conflicting relationships between architecture, sport, religion, class, and entertainment” that contemporary athletic stadiums serve to represent as iconographic structures. In Wrigley Castle, Carter draws parallels between historical European fortresses and American baseball stadiums in order to reveal the power hierarchies of landscape domination, and community development surrounding these significant edifices.
In her photograph Interrogation Mark Maria Dumlao
injects the space of the sports stadium with a sense of dread, recalling the history of the stadium as a site for death, violence and entertainment. This piece also reminds us of how our country's ongoing war has become part of the everyday landscape. The Institute for Aesthletics
is an organization dedicated to the playing of sports as performance. Aesthletics is a conscious acknowledgement of sport, especially contemporary spectator sports, as a mixture of physical activity, social interaction, performance, and ritual. Aesthletics aims to unleash the great opportunities inherent in competitive contests for social rather than monetary capital.
As part of The Main Event
, the Institute for Aesthletics is organizing a participatory street sporting event during the opening reception. Bring your sneakers and some Powerade, and partake in an exciting new sport while dodging cars on 27th Street. Uniforms, equipment, and performance enhancing drugs provided.
In a critical interpretation of political competition, Marisa Olson's
presents the presidential elections of the last twelve years as a glorified version of the Coke vs. Pepsi taste test challenge. Javier Piñón's
piece Theseus and the Minotaur
combines a classic Western narrative of masculine heroism, and the symbol of American bravado, the cowboy. Set in a bull-fighting ring amid distant grandstands this collage reveals the drama of conquest as a spectator sport.
In her film Olympics Track and Field 2005
, Shannon Plumb
tells the story of a group of athletes jockeying for the gold in a hilarious 8mm dissection of the Olympics’ ritualistic pomp and competitive spirit that evokes both Charlie Chaplin and Triumph of the Will
With their sculptural installation Regulation Basketball Hoop #1 : Tower of Power
, Justin Rancourt & Chuck Yatsuk
create an homage to one of the most arresting events in professional sports, the unexpected annihilation of the basketball goal, transforming the game's towering symbol of power into a fallen giant.
In his video, Fernando Sanchez
presents the first play of Super Bowl XLI as seen by nine different fans. The concurrent shifting of perspective whips the viewer into the thundering frenzy often experienced by the participant viewers of a large sporting event, from those watching at home, to those sitting in the stands. Tom Sanford's
twelve portraits of disgraced sports stars speaks to the systematic abuse by public figures, such as professional athletes, as they take advantage of their privileged societal positions, enlarging their human flaws to god-like caricatures of our own shortcomings.
The figures in Jessica Tam's
paintings are writhing monsters of flesh. Her pictures of professional wrestlers juxtapose the sport's inherent savagery with its distinctive theatricality. Despite the intensely vibrant hues of oil paint, One Mask lays out a wrestling mask resembling an executioner's hood, and Ring Monsters shows a frenetic interlocking of two sweat soaked men battling to death. Tam's images speak to the power of costume to transform an individual into an terrifying harbinger of pain. Lee Walton's
experiential models of performance based systems, has led him to collaborate with the curators of The Main Event
in order to remotely create a perpetually changing floor sculpture that maps the results of six rounds of golf played over the duration of the exhibition.
*The gallery will be closed on July 4th and on Saturdays in July.
August by appointment only.
The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11-6 and also by appointment. Please contact the gallery for further information.