Spectator Sports (April 12 – July 3, 2013) explores the relationship between athlete and spectator with a particular focus on the spectator’s perspective. Each artist whose work is included in the exhibition demonstrates an interest in the unique and deeply engaging combination of drama, spontaneity, and spectacle that distinguishes sports from most other forms of popular entertainment. In diverse ways, the artists examine how spectators align their identity with a protagonist or team and take in the twists of fate, spikes of excitement, and human feats that unfold moment by moment in sport. Some artists also consider photography and video as mediums that abstract our sense of space, time, and the human body even as photographic imagery causes us to feel closer to the real. Ultimately, the exhibition pivots on the sensation that we are directly involved with the athletes and teams that we root for—and we are thus connected to their rise and fall. The works included investigate how and why fans form rituals, allegiances, and communities centered on the performance of athletes that they do not personally know and sporting events that they cannot directly influence or control, and they enable us to probe the pleasures and disappointments associated with such affiliations. View or download the complete exhibition essay here.
Support for Spectator Sports is provided by the British Consulate-General, Chicago, the Goethe-Institut Chicago, and Art and Activism.