subversive images of sports culture by collier schorr, catherine opie, and sadie barnette
31 female artists challenge the macho athlete archetype in March Madness, an exhibition striking at the intersection of sports and politics during Women's History Month.
Collier Schorr, "Beauty (K.T.)," 2002
As #MarchMadness soars above the political chaos to hit the top of Twitter's trending list, a different take on the annual sports showdown is happening in NYC. Hank Willis Thomas and Adam Shopkorn have curated an exhibition that looks at the sports world from the perspective of women artists. Sadie Barnette, Catherine Opie, Zoe Buckman, Jordan Casteel, Miranda July, and Cindy Sherman are among the 31 artists whose work features in Fort Gansevoort's March Madness exhibition, which coincides with Women's History Month. Their work challenges traditional masculine archetypes by using athleticism to explore overlooked narratives, as well as issues of race, gender roles, empowerment, politics, and pop culture.
"For many, sports are a vehicle for upward mobility," says NYC art curator Kalia Brooks of the show. "The glamour of the professional athlete has attracted the ambition of young people for generations, and the ritual of competition liken the atmosphere at sporting events to that of a religious experience. For these reasons, the collective activity of participating in sports is imbued with the sensation of transcending physical and mental limitations."
Adam and Hank are both self-described sports fans, having curated a previous March Madness show honouring the spirit of the Black Power salute thrown up by Tommie Smith and John Carlos during their medal ceremony at the 1968 Olympics. The most striking photographs in the new exhibition include Opie's atypical portraits of all-American high school football players, Sadie Barnette's photo of a plastic pink quad bike in front of a graffiti-covered fence, and Collier Schorr's haunting image of a fresh-faced kid in perfectly ill-fitting basketball silks. Elsewhere, painter Renée Cox imagines her racism-fighting superhero alter-ego Raje as the first Jamaican-American president, and Swiss pop artist Sylvie Fleury — tackling two timely sports tournaments at once — presents a Formula 1 racing dress designed in collaboration with Hugo Boss.
"March Madness" is on view at New York's Fort Gansevoot from 16 March, 2017 through 7 May, 2017
Text Hannah Ongley
Images courtesy of Fort Gansevoort