Posts Tagged 'drift'

Now, lets talk about football

Martijn van Berkum, Rotterdam — To stand in the middle of the arena and let the cheers and buzz of the crowd run through you; to feel the grass, control your breathing, know where your teammates are, blindly, at any time; to experience the game as if it were in slow motion, seeing every action before it happens. That’s when you truly inhabit the game; that is Zinedine Zidane in his best days.

When I was contemplating on an article that would discuss all those great art works dealing with football as subject, the one underneath, ‘Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait’, stuck to me. It is a feature film by the artists Philip Parreno and Douglas Gordon. In 2005 they filmed football player Zinedine Zidane during the match Real Madrid – Villa Real with seventeen film camera’s, real-time, 90 minutes long.

It stands out from other ‘football art’ because, rather than turning the sport into a metaphor, it examines the essential quality of the game: a highly concentrated site where performance, narrative, sound and movement interplay with each other. The video, in relation to that, is a symphony and dramatization of these settings. It filters out all disturbing elements and focuses on Zidane moving, breathing, scanning the game and playing the ball.
In complete… control.

Fragment from ‘Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait’ by Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno

Those few occasions when I really excelled in my work, I remember having that feeling of complete control over all the circumstances. I’d reckon that in a football match, in order to succeed and win, you would need that feeling all the time. Therefore, a field, or a stadium, isn’t just the stage for a match as such, it also functions as a setting that meets all the conditions required for gaining that complete control and filters out everything that frustrates it. That’s the setting of Parreno and Gordon’s film about Zidane.

“I can hear someone shift around in their chair… I can hear someone coughing… I can hear someone whisper in the ear of the person next to them… I can imagine that I can hear the ticking of a watch”
– Zinedine Zidane

Examining these circumstances reminds me of some of the great works by the early conceptualists and performance artists in the sixties. They too focused on the characteristics of their environment: Bruce Naumann measured his studio, Douglas Huebler photographed the sky over different cities and Dan Graham described his audience in one of his performances. ‘Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait’ fascinates me because it captures all those conditions in one work and celebrates Zidane as one of the best football players ever, for being able to master and control all those circumstances and excel.

Yes, the Dutch do great at the current European Championship and I am absolutely thrilled! But this first tournament without Zidane… I guess I still have to get used to that…

Please find more fragments from ‘Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait’ here, here and his most gorgeous action of the match here.


Process works / Steel white table

Process works are works there are never finished, always in a process of ‘becoming’. For instance this weblog is not only a tool for us contributors to share our ideas with you, the audience – who in our case have the possibility to become contributors as well (since we want to open our weblog to everyone who’s interested in participating). But it is also a living entity that is trying to define its identity through constant change (by adding new ideas, abandoning older ones, inviting new members etc.).

Anyway, its a prelude to a very funny project I ran across today, the steelwhitetable weblog. They have started a post with a five words sentence that readers can change by adding five new words in the comments section. Hence, gradually a story emerges, and the funny thing about it is the fact that because it is always changing, it never gets to an essence and therefore alteration itself seems to become the subject of the story.

St. Louis / Julius Popp

Taken from Wooster collective.
Fluid knowledge and beautiful technology.

Amsterdam / Mapping the city / City Art Museum

A series of posts relating to the exhibition Mapping the city in the City Art Museum in Amsterdam

Part #2: the dérive. (click here for part #1: the exhibition)

One of my favourite subjects the exhibition takes up is the dérive. In short, an instruction for a city-stroll in which the itinerary is determined by the participants’ intuitive response to the terrain.
What interests me from an artistic point of view is the double meaning of the dérive. In the situationistic sense it means ‘to wander off‘, however, it could also be understood as a ‘thing that leads to another’ (as in English, to derive out off…). Thus, when combined, the dérive could be interpreted as a method that leads to sudden or unexpected insights, by means of wandering off.

It reminds me of the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, who defined knowledge not as given facts, but rather as an ongoing process of “becoming’. To study this process, Deleuze says, we shouldn’t ask the question ‘What?’, but instead questions such as ‘Where?’, ‘Who?’, ‘When?’ and ‘How?’. Which brings me back to the dérive, a method that allows you to directly respond to the terrain and put these questions into practice.

“When you are walking, you are aware or awake to everything that happens in your peripheral vision, the little incidents, smells, images, sounds…”
– Francis Alÿs

In the exhibition we see some works of Francis Alÿs who applies these Deleuzean methods in his work. Mexico City has been the setting for several walking performances, one of which is shown in the exhibition. Alÿs pushed a huge melting ice cube through the streets of the city, walked around with magnatic shoes that gather all metal garbage, drags a drumstick along the surface of city fences and walks around with a gun in his hand until he gets arrested. All these works explore the urban terrain, trigger events and encounters and ultimately reveal the dynamics and diversity of Mexico City.

More on Francis Alÿs here and here.

Amsterdam / Mapping the city / City Art Museum

A series of posts relating to the exhibition Mapping the city in the City Art Museum in Amsterdam
Part #1: the exhibition.

The exhibition Mapping the city in the City Art Museum Amsterdam sets out several subjects relating to site-specific art and urban art which I’d like to discuss in a series of posts.
The curators have taken up the theories of the flaneur (coined by Baudelaire) and the dérive (coined by Debord) as starting point for the exhibition. Both theories approach the city in a non-functional way. The dérive is an instruction for a city-stroll in which the itinerary is determined by the participants’ intuitive response to the terrain. Such methods open up possibilities for an experimental way of reading the city and have become starting point for many art works.

Unfortunately only few artists in the exhibition manage to maintain such an experimental attitude. Francis Alys, Wim T. Schippers, Doug Aitken and Valie Export prove that performance is the best technique to use the dérive as an artistic method. Only their work manages to explore the urban terrain, to respond directly to the environment and to provoke reactions among passers-by.

Of course, you can wake me in the middle of the night to come and see a real Jeff Wall photograph. The pictures of Beat Streuli and Philip Lorca diCorcia are beautiful frozen portraits. And I must admit that I couldn’t wait to the see the latest Sarah Morris film, and Miami lived up to all expectations. However, all these works study or document the city, just as it is.

I think the theory of the dérive is more than just a method of experiencing the city. As an artistic practice, it enables the artist to work with the dynamics of urban environment; to create works that adapt, respond, interact with the terrain and that ultimately manage to become part of the city flux. The themes the exhibition sets out, as well as the participating artists, are all individually very interesting. But all together they fail precisely on that point: they don’t become part of the city.

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