Shaun Leonardo’s Bull in the Ring. There’s nothing like the sound of crunching bones at a museum opening. (Photos by C-M.)
Sometimes sport is art. And other times, art is sport. In the case of LACMA’s newest exhibit — Hard Targets: Masculinity & Sports — it’s a bit of both. The show’s opening last week got off to a rousing start with a performance by Shaun Leonardo, in which the artist, dressed in black football gear, was rammed repeatedly by a bunch of real-deal players. Indoors, a video piece by Joe Sola broadcast a similar exercise: Saint Henry Composition showed the artist, wearing a button-down shirt and slacks, getting repeatedly tackled by members of a high school football team. (Both pieces led me to wonder if both Leonardo and Sola weren’t beaten up quite enough in their youth.)
The show, curated by LACMA’s Christopher Bedford (who has played rugby and American football and still has all of his original teeth) takes a look at how contemporary art addresses the subject of organized men’s sports. The sneaker sculptures of Brian Jungen examine athletic regalia. Photographs of high school wrestlers by Collier Schorr look at issues of team dynamics and male adolescent sexuality. And a giant soccer ball sculpture by Mark Bradford, hangs like a nutsack in the corner. It’s a small, but potent show, that looks at a subject that is omnipresent in our culture, yet almost absent from contemporary art. The only bummer was that not a single work was devoted to curling. So, get on it all you Yale MFAs. It’s time you stopped gazing at your navels. And started watching ESPN.
The show is up until Jan. 18th, 2009.
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