Art of Sport
21 Apr - 24 Oct 2021
Curator: Marie Nipper
A divided community
A glistening yellow sculpture is writhing athletically and, between its legs, an oversized phallus is jutting out. This is the artist Sarah Lucas’s humorous portrait of the sports icon and legendary footballer Diego Maradona – and among the first sights to greet visitors to the Art of Sport exhibition.
Some view sports activities as a haven, as fostering community spirit, friendships, and self-development while others experience it as excluding and threatening their identity and self-perception. This is precisely the duality that Art of Sport sets out to examine. Via numerous works created by more than thirty prominent Danish and international artists, Art of Sport directs focus at the qualities and community aspects of sport, but also at its negative sides where sexism, xenophobia, commercialism, and political interest make us think about the meaning of ’fair play’ – both on and off the pitch.
The downside of sport
Art of Sport mirrors the world in which we live through works by artists including Mark Bradford, Sarah Lucas, Camille Henrot, Sylvie Fleury, Jeff Koons, Kota Ezawa, Hank Willis Thomas, Lyle Ashton Harris, and others, addressing topical issues within the world of sport. Although sport is for everyone and crosses cultural, economic, and social boundaries, it also embodies racism and xenophobia, sexism and homophobic attitudes.
This is evident, for example, in Leatherboys – an installation by Louka Anargyros in the form of three ceramic sculptures of entangled male bodies dressed in motor sport outfits. The usual sponsor logos on the suits have been replaced by humiliating homophobic slurs, originally directed at the artist himself.
Challenging inflexible ideas on gender
Several works in the Art of Sport exhibition make a stand against the prevailing traditional sex segregation and stereotyped gender constructs evident, for example, in the artist Mark Bradford's awkward attempts at playing basketball dressed in a voluminous crinoline. We watch him tumble repeatedly but willing himself to get up and continue despite cultural, gender, and racial challenges.
Centrally placed in the exhibition, Olaf Nicolai's nine-metre inflatable Nike shoe towers in the landscape of sports works. The shoe is surrounded by much hype in the world of fashion and most people know the popular Nike Air Jordans – here apparently symbolising the commercialisation of sport. A world where top athletes achieve god-like status, influence, and power worth millions to sports clubs, agents, advertising agencies, and the fashion business.
Whether fascinated or repelled by it, we recognise that the world of sport is full of complex dilemmas concerning us all.
The exhibition is curated by: Marie Nipper, director, Copenhagen Contemporary, Line Wium Olesen, assistant curator, and Louka Anargyros, external curator.
For this exhibition, CC has initiated a collaborative project with Skjold Contemporary, an exhibition venue based at two changing rooms at Østerbro Stadium. Three exhibitions featuring Sara Sjölin, Kristoffer Akselbo, and Mogens Jacobsen will be presented there during the exhibition period.