The Nation's Finest


7:00 PM to 9:00 PM

$6 - $8

Wexner Center for the Arts

1871 N. High Street, Columbus, OH 43210


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This program of short experimental films deconstructs the athletes body, how its used for national, political, and social agendas, and how its viewed and recrafted by artists (who are themselves sometimes athletic!). Youll see work by Haig Aivazian, I AM A BOYS CHOIR, Tara Mateik, Nam June Paik, Keith Piper, and Lillian Schwartz (see descriptions below). The evening is introduced by Astria Suparak and Brett Kashmere, the programs curators and editors of INCITE: Journal of Experimental Media. (71 mins.; 16mm, video, and GIF)


Officially commissioned for the Olympic Winter Games, Nam June Paiks Lake Placid 80 (1980), is an unruly, ecstatic video that is slyly subversive. Keith Pipers The Nations Finest (1990), however, mimics the look and tone of state propaganda with a silky, biting critique of the way predominantly white countries use black bodies in the service of national pride while simultaneously disenfranchising their black residents. How Great You Are O Son of the Desert! (2013), by Haig Aivazian, delves further into the tragic and deadly consequences of white supremacy with examples that range from the 2006 World Cup Final to the fields of a Parisian suburb.


In Putting the Balls Away (2008), a reenactment of the historic 1973 "Battle of the Sexes," artist Tara Mateik plays both "chauvinist pig" Bobby Riggs and equal pay advocate Billie Jean King while assailed by the hypergendered ads of that era. With demonstrating the imaginary body (2015), I AM A BOYS CHOIR highlights the insidious sexism of sports commentating, particularly with the objectification of female figure skaters, with panache and sarcasm. Lillian Schwartzs computer-graphic film Olympiad (1971) presents a nearly gender-neutralized (then, meaning on the masculine end) symbol of an athlete to inspire and uplift. The program begins and ends with recent GIFs of confounding skill and precision from a university cheerleader and a 19-year-old monk in a deep Zen meditative state.