curated by Ryan Woodring with special guest curator Roz Crews
Over and Back refers to a rule in basketball in which a team who has taken the ball beyond the half-court line into the opponent’s territory can not voluntarily retreat past that line without penalty. Since sports journalists are particularly prone to wordplay, I am borrowing this phrase to describe a unique binary in professional sports culture relating to the act of remembering. On one hand, sports are characterized by an ephemerality in which players are cycled through their youth and each year, regardless of the previous season’s successes or failures, the standings reset. While players are encouraged to forget, those who watch sports engage in a growing economy based in remembering. Fans, and the market surrounding them, capture and monumentalize fleeting moments of muscular serendipity with an expansive set of recording devices. The artists in this exhibition use the material of spectatorship, from televisions to t-shirts, to form nuanced personal and communal takeaways from fandom culture. With arrow-sized sewing needles, motorized tracks, silkscreened memorials, and karaoke pep-talks, each artist effectively plays on both ends of the court.
Surplus Space, a residential gallery in North East Portland that resembles a model home for collecting art, plays a fitting role in hosting an exhibition about domesticated sports culture. Greg Hayes‘ 500h49m, a series of over 150 individual photographic accounts of every game of the 2008 Red Sox season as seen on television, greets us in the living room. Hayes set his camera’s lens on the televisions that broadcast each game and exposed each photograph for the entire duration of the game. The over-exposed television screens obliterate the content of the games while illuminating the static furniture that accompanies the restless Boston fan who waits the entire year for h/er team to return to the World Series.
On the other side of the living room hangs Carolyn Castaño and Gary Dauphin‘s Asesinados United, a fantasy team of silk-screened shirts portraying eleven different murdered or mysteriously deceased soccer stars. Fan-fueled deaths rupture the perceived distance between player and spectator and public and private. The shirts (which are available to purchase in a range of sizes) serve dual functions as they memorialize the player while also identifying with the fan- whose most common show of support is the donning of the jersey.
In the adjacent white box space, Terry Boyd violently sews large canvases using a bow and arrow with an attached string. In Bow and Arrow Sewing Boyd confines the act of archery to an unthreatening domestic space, allowing our eyes and ears to witness the cacophonous pairing of questionable myths (male as hunter) with current conditions of domestic dwelling. Using sewing as a backdrop, Boyd’s performance highlights, among several other intricacies of modern gender renegotiations, the enigmatic role of sports culture as both a promoter and an outlet for physical aggression on and off the field.
In the street-level garage/theatre space, Hand2Mouth‘s Julie Hammond, Liz Hayden, Faith Helma, Erin Leddy, and Jonathan Walters (director) reconfigure their interactive Pep Talk play for a four-hour opening-night only performance. In this comically exaggerated portrayal of sports mentorship, Hand2Mouth’s actors play the part of life coaches who channel famous sports speeches with the help of cryptic karaoke equipment. Pep Talk samples the unrelenting optimism of American sports culture to prompt more difficult conversations about the interchangeability of roles between coach and player, mentor and pupil, and ultimately, winner and loser.
Guest curator Roz Crews, creator of The Art and Sports Notebook blog is curating Surplus Space’s kitchen, hallway, and backyard. The artists who will be showing work include Amanda Leigh Evans, Adam Moser and Sean Starowitz.