Weekly Reading from 09.05.19
Photography. The public imagination has always regarded athletes as somewhat as mythical, and this tendency has undoubtedly grown since the introduction of photography. Who Shot Sports: A Photographic History, 1843 to the Present, which accompanied the 2016 exhibition of the same name, chronicles the rich history of sports photography, including photographers—from Eadweard Muybridge to George Silk to Rineke Dijkstra. In the N.B.A. world, the role of the photographer has changed significantly such that most official photos are taken to bolster the Instagrams of players, teams, and photographers themselves. The protection of private moments between players is, unsurprisingly, increasingly impossible. An exhibition at the Arab World Institute in Paris (on view through 21 July) turns to soccer photography and memorabilia to reveal the relationship with soccer and power, as well as the game’s ability to mask or diminish unsavoury politics.
– Artsy | The New York Times | The New York Times
Caster Semenya. Last week, the highest court for international sports, the Court of Arbitration of Sport, ruled that such athletes could be banned unless they took medication to reduce their testosterone levels. South African Olympic champion, Caster Semenya, who is hyperandrogenic, meaning that she has a much higher level of T, challenged the court (and lost) after refusing to take medication. Many are speaking out against this discriminatory ruling, as elite sports are, by their very nature, an uneven playing field. The ruling will disproportionately affect women from the Global South, who have long suffered from racist sex testing in sports. Finally, what does this ruling mean for transgender athletes?
– The Guardian | Quartz
Bodybuilding. How have artists engaged with the notion of bodybuilding? Artist and writer Hannah Black collages text, intense rock music, architectural imagery, and bodybuilders in a video work called Bodybuilding. “Having a good size body seems to be dream”, she narrates, critiquing the body building industry as almost grotesque. Years prior, writer and cult figure Kathy Acker, an active bodybuilder herself, offered a more positive view on the sport in Against Ordinary Language: The Language of the Body. By rejecting the characterisation of bodybuilding as unintelligent, she found instead new artistic possibilities through the process of writing immediately after pushing her body to its limits.
– Hannah Black | Kathy Acker
Stadiums. Wild mushroom arancini, inbuilt seat warmers, microbreweries, and galleries: the amenities of football stadiums are becoming increasingly luxurious. In light of the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium, the FT’s Henry Mance questions the future of the sports industry, particularly its VIP sector. While Googling the match’s highlights after the fact, Mance wonders, who actually pays attention to the game? Due to be unveiled 9 September, Basel-based curator Klaus Littmann is planting 299 trees in the Wörthersee football stadium in Klagenfurt, Austria. The public art installation, soon-to-be Austria’s largest, is entitled For Forest: the Unending attraction of Natureand was inspired by a dystopian drawing by Max Peintner. Only viewable from the stands, the installation presents an eerie future in which trees only exist as spectacle in a world devastated by climate change.
– The Financial Times | The Art Newspaper
What is the relationship between bodybuilding and transcendence? Some argue that bodybuilding epitomises modern physical culture, materialism, liberalism, and life-enhancing biopolitics. German art historian Jörg Scheller begs to differ, understanding bodybuilding as a pursuit of or a means towards what he terms tra(i)nscendence. Through its associations with order and photogeneity—amplified by its relationship with photography—bodybuilding fulfils modernity’s quest for an earthly paradise, here and now.
– Jörg Scheller