Sporting and recreational activities, such as surfing, dancing, and Tai chi, are inflected with powerful aesthetic and cultural associations. And as is the case with art, it is typically the most highly engaged practitioners of these sporting and recreational activities that most enthusiastically promote these aesthetic qualities. Like artists, specialised devotees of particular sporting and recreational activities can find it difficult to verbally express what they do and why they do it— deferring instead to some sense of shared embodied knowledge accessible only to those who participate. Like art, essentialisation is considered antithetical to idealisation.
For artists, it can seem that the kinds of people interested in sport are rarely the same people who are interested in art. Yet, directly or indirectly, most of us participate in some way in the mass industrialisation of sport, leisure and recreation. Perhaps, if we look past monetisation and muscular competitiveness, we might instead ask ourselves if there is something bigger to be found in the more mundane and everyday aspects of recreation. Do we compensate for the hyper-specialisation of work through the symbolic unity of leisure activities in clubs, teams, or mass recreational venues such as stadiums and theme parks? Is there a difference between leisure-time and free-time? Notwithstanding clear inequities in accessing ‘free time’, perhaps it is through recreation that we strive to be at ease and contemplate for its own sake.
This exhibition will seek to neither explicitly celebrate nor critique the pursuit of sport, leisure and recreation. Instead, it seeks to illuminate something of our inclination toward play through the experiential realm of art. What is the place of art in relationships between work and recreation? If we understand recreation as simply less valuable time—perhaps something necessary only to recharge before returning to work—we might forget that non-work activities can create different kinds of value. Perhaps this is something that art, sport and recreation all remind us to consider.
Curated by Cūrā8