Now the 27-year-old Los Angeles artist finds herself and that
webcam video in the company of Andy Warhol and his 1978 portrait of
Pele and 50 other works of art by 30 artists celebrating the
"beautiful game" in this year of the World Cup in Brazil.
"Futbol: The Beautiful Game", takes place a mere 10,000 kilometers
(6,300 miles) from Rio de Janeiro, at the Los Angeles County Museum
of Art or LACMA, where a curator bitten by soccer has assembled a
show about the mythic, the heroic, the poetic and the violent
manifestations of the game.
"Timed with the World Cup, it seems like an opportunity to think
about some of the things I love about the game, perhaps in a more
artistic and intellectual way," said Franklin Sirmans, the
44-year-old curator and head of contemporary art at LACMA, who was
inspired early on by Pele and the Cosmos in his native New York.
The exhibition reflects the global nature of the game, from
paintings by an artist obsessed by English club Manchester United to
a Colombian artist who shoots a video of a pick-up game in a small
courtyard to a photograph of North African slippers bearing a
Although the United States might not match the passion of other
countries for the sport, Los Angeles is arguably its most soccer-mad
city with two Major League Soccer teams and a large Hispanic
population. "Futbol," the Spanish word for soccer, was chosen for
the show's title to denote the international character of the city.
When Sirmans went looking for soccer art, one of the first pieces in
mind was the object he chose to greet visitors to the exhibition — a
mini rendering of Rio's Maracana Stadium, where the World Cup final
will be played in July, by Brazilian artist Nelson Leirner. It is
full of different figurines like Buddhas and Japanese beckoning
cats, all surrounded by Jesus figures.
Many of the pieces are simple — like a South African video of an
artist drawing a soccer ball on the wall — a reflection Sirmans says
of the beautiful game's simplicity.
The art is often made from everyday materials, like the display of
little soccer jerseys made from cigarette packages or a bag full of
balls made from a collage of scrap paper.
Before the show moves on to the icons and heroes, it lingers on the
not so beautiful, like photos of fervent Italian fans crammed behind
police lines or a soccer boot painted along with a gun.
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"We are standing in the room that addresses the more contentious
things around the game, hooliganism, racism, colonialism, things
that often aren't part of the discussion," said Sirmans.
Two room-size video displays anchor the exhibition. One is a
90-minute video of French star Zinedine Zidane playing, shot from 17
angles. In the other video "Volta," the viewer only sees Brazilian
spectators captured in various stadiums with a handheld camera,
while players and pitch remain out of sight.
"You are seeing literally thousands of people, holding on to the
same jersey and waving it up and down at exactly the same moment,"
"How many times do we see people functioning today in our world
today in such a fashion?"
WITH WARHOL, "REALLY CRAZY"
Towards the end of the exhibition, the Andy Warhol portrait of Pele
with a ball on his head comes in to view. It is the oldest piece in
the show, painted in 1978, shortly after the great Brazilian striker
wrapped up his career in a U.S. exhibition match between his two
clubs, Santos and the New York Cosmos, in which he played for both
Cortright was not even born then, but she is a beneficiary of those
pioneering days of U.S. soccer. She did pre-Olympic training before
giving the sport up for art school and now can't quite believe where
soccer and art have taken her.
"Being in a show with Andy Warhol is really crazy," said Cortright,
suitably dressed in a white Adidas T-shirt and trousers as she
wanders through the exhibit.
For the World Cup, both she and Sirmans admit they will be totally
consumed by the month of matches and Sirmans has made sure the games
will be showing at LACMA's outdoor screens and in the bar.
"Hopefully, it triggers a celebratory mode around here, as much of
the world will be in celebratory mode as well," said Sirmans. "Me
personally, I know I'll be in front of the television for every
"Futbol: The Beautiful Game" opens February 2 and ends July 20, one
week after the world crowns its new champion in the Maracana.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)
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