Wednesday, March 7, 2007

At what point do sport and art come together? - mimitig

By Mimitig - queen of the OBO

There are many sports fans who feel no warmth at all to the concept of art. They will happily argue that sport is macho: it is the epitome of the struggle of men against men. They will admit to a fine or beautiful run down the wing side resulting in, say a superb cross leading to a goal in football, or in rugby, a neat blind-side switch leading to a try, but it's not art.

But they should stop and think. There has already been a ballet choreographed about Archie Gemmell. For all I know, there may well be one about Phil Bennett and his devastating performance during the famous match in 1973 as the Barbarians beat NZ. On that day at the Arms Park there was a dance as magical as anything the Kirov Ballet could produce in their wonderful Swan Lake.

Why should there be an argument? Sportsmen and women aspire to perfection in their art and physical fitness. This is exactly the same with the artistes of the ballet. Why should we seek to find differences between these disciplines? Why not recognise that there are more similarities than disparities? When Asian cricketing hero Shahid Afridi suffered a loss of perspective and performed a pirouette on the popping crease, should we not have celebrated his artistry, and imagined him in tights, dancing on the Parisian stage?

There used to be an Olympic sport dedicated to the togetherness of sport and art: it was called synchronised swimming and drew much derision from all courts. I think we can do better. If we all come together and recognise how close these two disciplines are, there will be joy unbounded.

What fun there would be. Gilbert and George become Premiership referees and gloriously redraw the meaning of the red and yellow cards. Tracy Emin is put in charge of 30 young men with unfeasibly large thighs who like to finger each other in the scrum. Darcy Bussell controls the strip at Lords. When Damien Hirst is on stand-by with a tank of formaldehyde, and Anthony Hopkins waits with a bottle of room-temperature Chianti, who then would take the risk of a dive and a 5 minute agony-roll on the ground?

Sport must then give back to the arts: there are many sportspeople who could betaken for "Living Art". Coat some snooker stars in silver paint and put them on display to the public as living statues. Isenbayeva caught at the moment she vaults the high bar and Wilkinson trapped with his hands in prayer before kicking, both locked forever in Perspex boxes. True art.

There is a wonderful arena in the heart of central London that could be the perfect venue for art and sport to come together. Southwark, stand up and claim your inheritance. The next installation for Tate Modern: gymnastics, Aussie Rules, basketball - the imagination can run riot.

41 comments:

bluedaddy said...

Wow Mimi. A smorgasbord of ideas. I like G&G as refs best.
And for the Tate Turbine Hall? Arjen Robben, on his own, with some mattresses strewn about for his landings. The man is an artist, misunderstood yet dedicated to the point of obsession. A true diva!

MouthoftheMersey said...

Mimi - lovely stuff. Gilbert and George as refs is good, but wouldn't they be great as those other two Gs, the officials in Jeux sans Frontieres?

I have long championed the Media work of Sir Geoffrey Boycott as Performance Art - and your examples show that there are many other candidates for crossover.

I always thought Carl Lewis, especially on the last leg of the 4x100 relay as balletic rather than athlectic, Zidane too. And those great hulking forwards who used to steam in the gloom of a late Murrayfield finish to a Five Nations match used to look like a Lucian Freud given life.

allwell said...

Nice one Mimitag,

I reckon linesmen should be replaced by creative directors. Rather than having to unravel and apply arcane offside laws, they would simply judge the artistic merit of the subsequent action.

You could have players ten yards offside, but as long as they unleash a thirty yard volley into the top corner, then let them play on. A grubby little two-yard toe-poke, and lino would flag, onside or not.

bluedaddy said...

MotM No apologies for repeating this link. Stuart Hall said he actually wet himself during this game. I prefer to listen but not watch.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aco-hkeQFBM&NR

I used to get annoyed when we did badly at JSF. WTF!

MotM said...

Bluedaddy - That's the kind of Performance Art that should attract an Arts Council grant.

I need a folder of youtube clips to play when work gets too much. That would be in there along with this treat - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4y1WrWHGTU

mimi said...

Mouth: twas thinking about Boycott as an art form all of his own that got the piece going. However, after the first 700 or so words on the GLYM I realised that all I was doing was feeding his ego so he got brutally cut and I widened my search! Still didn't win though.
Like the Freud reference: hadn't thought of that.

Zephirine said...

Great, Mimi! Perhaps all sports should bring their scoring into line with ice-skating: points for 'technical merit' and 'artistic interpretation'? Wow, that would cause some screeching on the football blog...

mimi said...

Zeph: I love it. Just think how it could work in athletics - specially the triple jump. By the way, I got a smack from GU for suggesting that the boys were a bit all-male chummy on the pre-WC podcast. Have you been over there yet?

MotM said...

mimi and zeph - hate to do this, but your "sport should adopt scoring based on artistic interpretation and technical merit" just wouldn't work! There aren't numbers high enough for Federer nor low enough for Yardy!

Have you seen Quicknstraight's invitation to the fantasy league. Gotta do it now. Don't let me down!!

andrewm said...

Well, I don't know much about art but I know what I like, and I like this article.

zephirine said...

Mimi - I'm resistant to podcasts (why would I want my computer to start pretending it's a radio?) so only just listened to the GU one. Let's just say it didn't enthral me.

mimi said...

Ah, Zeph, oh for the days when a radio was a wireless - in the sitting room with a great fabric covered loudspeaker, and the TV a beast in the cupboard, only brought out for special occasions! Makes me sound horribly old, but actually, it's just that my family was weird.
Computing at our fingertips has changed most of our worlds - embrace. I've even started to check out these YouTube clips that the guys keep recommending. The computer as a TV?

marcela said...

Tracy Emin is put in charge of 30 young men with unfeasibly large thighs who like to finger each other in the scrum...

mimitig, your mind is like a sewer!

a great selection of images and ideas though. you know, before the world cup i went to a presentation where fifa in conjunction with the german kulturelministry (or similar) announced their million euro budget for arts exhibitions during the world cup. they had some amazing stuff previewed, like a play about 'what goes on in the mind of a manager during the split second when the ball enters the goal' and some other performance arts stuff which haven't stayed with me.

it's a shame all those things, which were going on all over germany throughout the summer, didn't get more media attention.

i call for your suggestion that london seek an arena for sport and art to meet should be taken immediately to the higher echelons of ken's phallic headquarters, and funds from olympic coffers be freed immediately to this purpose.

this blog could be the initial petition; add your signature to support the cause...

mimi said...

Marcela: my mind is but a blank canvas on which others can write. Actually, I'm usually the one accusing others of having minds like sewers. It's just life and I seem drawn to the filthy underside - must be something to do with my upbringing.

olivier said...

offsideintahiti said...

regarding minds like sewers, I'd say it takes one to know one. So I can't judge, obviously.

50KaWeekSub said...

The obvious time when sport and art come together are in adverts; i.e. the Brazilian football team in the airport for Nike etc etc.

MotM said...

50K - wouldn't that be sport and commerce? I have to confess to really hating that kind of advert - the antithesis of sport and art in terms of its ethos if not its execution.

I know that's a bit precious of me, but I do feel this way.

Zephirine said...

Did you guys pick up this one from GU today?

http://youtube.com/watch?v=OADmYiqwlvI

this looks pretty much like sport meeting art, to me.

Wikipedia says: Chinlone is over 1,500 years old and was once played for Myanmar royalty. Over the centuries, players have developed more than 200 different ways of kicking the ball. Many of the moves are similar to those of Myanmar dance and martial art... Form is all important in chinlone... A move is considered to have been done well only if the form is good.

[I like these youtube bits, Mimi, it's only podcasts that annoy me...]

olivier said...

offsideintahiti said...

Zeph, would you mind getting in touch for an off-topic chat on screenwriting?

olivierrothster@gmail.com

I know you should be careful who you give your email address to on the web but don't worry, you don't have to take my word for it when I tell you I'm not a lunatic but I am 12,000 miles away so it's fairly safe.

mimi said...

Olivier: I've put my email address up here on Pseuds and so far, no loonies or death threats! I think you'll be safe. We're pretty much amongst friends here.

Zephirine said...

Offside, I've picked up the address so you can delete it on here now if you like. I'm sure all us pseuds are trustworthy sane but you never know about evil spamming programmes..

andrewm said...

You know, I never used to get those Nigerian rip-off emails at all until I put my address on one of these blogs (not even after I put it on GU). I now get about three a day.

Mouth also emails me, which is almost as bad :o)

olivier said...

offsideintahiti said...

mimi,

it wasn't my safety I was worried about. I thought Zephirine might be worried about hers. We might be in good company but the place is still open to the four winds.

Personally, I don't mind my address being on display and anyone getting in touch. It's a small island in a lot of water, and outside contacts are always welcome.

Although, I do agree with andrew that Mouth's peddling performance enhancing drugs by email is a bit of a nuisance, but what can you do?

andrewm said...

offside, it's sad that he presents one image on GU and Pseuds - Mouth/Gary Naylor, sports fanatic and generous commentator - but when he gets you alone in cyberspace it's a whole different story.

MotM said...

Have I a doppelganger? Is it my e-mail address that appears on the spam?

Really - let me know, because it's a work computer and they can do wonders here and possibly stop it.

But if you do need some via... kidding kidding!

olivier said...

offsideintahiti said...

The worse thing is that reporting him to Ebren won't do any good. I think they're in it together.

Mouth does the drugs, Ebren the shady Nigerian money deals.

andrewm said...

Yes offside, Ebren's tried to cover his tracks by forwarding alleged spam emails to everyone and telling us how he was going to accept advertising, but only for OUR benefit (yeah, right), but it's a shady organisation.

Mouth, you can keep your nandrolone, you chancer.

mimi said...

And you know who wrecked last year's Tour and is the secret mastermind behind Operacion Puerto ....

honolulu said...

If I may, Marcela,

Marcela posted this link on one of the Football Weekly blogs and you might be interested:
http://www.chimurenga.co.za/

synchronized swimming- it is the most difficult sport I have ever done and I've tried them all (except canoeing): gymnastics, softball, water polo, footie; I've even danced ballet.

Knowing the strength required- holding someone's full bodyweight above the surface while treading water under it- dropping her with lungs burning and just as you are about to take air, she lands on top of you, pushing you back under, snorting water in through your nose, scrambling over her, gasping air and droplets of water, coughing chlorine and bile.

ugh, I'm clawing my neck in suffocation all over again. Any one who ever scorned it has never tried it! The waterproof makeup is terrifying, though.

I think that what makes synchronized swimming, diving (both aquatic and Robben, although I think Deco is the best), and rhythmic dancing other sources of derision by the sporting community is the way they are judged winners-they have to make something difficult look easy. And the easier it looks, the less sporting it looks.

In most other sports, it doesn't matter how pretty it is they have to hit their targets, score points and WIN. If they happen to make it look good (Mohammed Ali, Pele, Michael Jordan) I feel like they are usually called "genius" and not "artist." Do you agree?

honolulu said...

I was one of three girls holding someone else up- it sounds like I was doing it alone. heehee-IMPOSSIBLE!

marcela said...

zepherine - thanks for the football skills clip. class acts. i've pinched it and posted it elsewhere. grrreat stuff.

hope we all get to read the screenplay when it's done, even if we're shut out of the conversation about it... :)

marcela said...

honolulu!! sorry, missed your post while typing mine.

chimurenga needs exposure. it was actually ntone who commissioned the kustu piece!

have you got hold of the mag? it's brilliant, truly.

your description of a synch swim makes me gasp in fear of drowning. you should write about it either for Big Blogger or for here. no wonder the idea of sailing to tahiti appeals to you... you're a professional sea creature.

me. i'm flying. on a machine.

Zephirine said...

Marcela
It's stunning, isn't it? I didn't know anything about chinlone. Someone called Smiling Arthur posted the clip on GU (credit where it's due).
I'm going to read Offside's script and give him some feedback, but he's quite shy about it so I shall be discreet. I'm not exactly the big time myself, so don't hold your collective breath for the Hollywood deal!

MotM said...

Honolulu - The synchronised swimming stuff is perfect for the Big Blogger. If not there, then a proper post here. I was disappointed when you choked it off. More please!

bluedaddio said...

Definitely would like to hear more re SynchroSwim, and could make a great BB article (though why do I already hear Glendenning guffawing as he vetoes it from the final three?). I felt a little ashamed of my own prejudices as I read that description. I also got that horrible 'Got to breathe!' feeling.

Judged sporting events have also suffered from the 'love (or hate) thy neighbour' problem, where even the total novice spectator could see that the judge from Bulgaria was being over generous to the Russian ice dancers, especially given the spectacular triple salko into the safety barrier.

The enforced smile is also a problem I think.

Motm, maybe Honolulu was going to write more , but ran out of air.

guitougoal said...

mimi i am sorry to be the jonny come to late.In most sports athletes have a moment of inspiration that is in my viewis the real time when sport and art may be associated.
I just can't help to step out of the human race for few second and think about the most forgotten athletes,
the race horses.Of course a horse doesn't know wether he won the Kentucky Derby or not.But his owner does, his rider does, History does.Race horses have the heart and soul to compete without any direct reward,and they are generous with their effort, they do it with absolute esthetic, i would say artistic way.
They made a movie about sea-biscuit and wrote a poem about john henry, a case should be made for them.

bluedaddy said...

And Guitou, there was also that dyslexic whodunnit, RedRum She Wrote

MotM said...

Gitou - I don't much care for horse-racing, but the BBC showed a full re-run of the 1973 Grand National in which Red Rum overcame top weigh Crisp in the last stride.

Heroic is the only description possible for both horses and their jockeys. If you wanted to show kids the spirit of sport, those two horses are the perfect examples.

guitougoal said...

MOTM-there is something magical about the relationship between the jockey and his horse during these races.I love handicap races.
About handicaps, when does Andrew decide to write something new about:St Andrews Scottland? where it all began, for a golfer going to st andrews it's like a catholic entering the vatican for the first time. Let's pay the shrine another visit.

mimi said...

gg: only just come back to this to see your comments about racing (horses not cars). Ignoring for a moment your blog name cos I think I'm the only one abbreviating you to gg so all in my mind. I do agree with you about the poetry in motion that can be a racehorse in full flow. Also, I reckon there are more statues of famous horses gracing the UK racetracks, than there are at any other sort of sports ground for humans.

MotM said...

And I always felt Degas' paintings of racehorses to be a hgih point in the art / sport debate.

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