The word 'athletic' derives from the Greek, athlēō (“compete for a prize”). In this schema, the 'prize' is the thing competed for, but this can be defined in many ways: as a gift, a kiss, a drop of blood, or a ribbon. We are often told that the prize is not important but participation is. The athlete models subjectivity, the body, desire, social relations, matter and chance in order to achieve a measure of success, recognition, mastery, the deferral of death and emptiness, a place in history and an apotheosis of self-love, among other things.

How can artworks, essays, thought experiments, interventions, social events and encounters allow us to critically analyze and even undo the habitual idioms, rules and expectations surrounding athleticism as a measure or even as an outcome? Is it possible to create a differently dispersed athleticism that shows us what a body can do, what a care of the body can mean, or indeed, arranges new relations between bodies in order to attain a hitherto unimaginable prize?

In what ways can we think through/work away from/deconstruct the fascistic tendencies of the 'competitive spirit' in order to arrange new rhythms and durations, participative networks and subjectivities? Can athleticism be situated within a more radical play of performances and acts that involve unanticipated outcomes and risks? Put another way, how can a radical undoing of the telos of the athlete lead us to redefine what is worth struggling for?

What are the parallel roles of endurance, discipline, failure in sports and cultural production? How do artists explore the making, breaking and rearranging of rules, strategies, structures and histories of these visual, spatial, temporal and embodied games?



Feature Artist
States of Grace - Rachel Rampleman (with text by Alex Young and David Mitchell)

A Critique of Self-Concept and Youth Sport ReconsideredJoel Nathan Rosen
Addiction, Therapy and Sport in Infinite JestIra Halpern
I Would Rather Be the Worst at Something Than the Best: Athleticism and Masculinity in Contemporary New Zealand Art - Victoria Wynne-Jones

Thought Experiments
The Italic I (Studio as Gymnasium) - Emma Cocker and Clare Thornton
Swimming My Way to Failure – Sandy Gibbs
Composite Fields (2015) on ‘Nothingness’ and Mu - Sarah Stefana Smith

Germaine Koh's League - Louise Rusch
The Theatrics of Games: Craig Drennen on Basketball and The Bard - Sarah Walko

David Cross in Conversation with Cameron Bishop - Cameron Bishop
A Pilgrim’s Progress: An Interview with Anna Wittenberg - Joshua West Smith
Matt Hern in Conversation with Elizabeth Spavento - Elizabeth Spavento

Creative Writing
The Liar of Lamoille - Joseph Ramelo
Practicing Play - Germaine Koh
The Artist Who Plays Basketball - Nathaniel Sullivan

Art Projects
Endgame Strategy (For Vince Lombardi) - Brandon Bauer
Considered Compulsion Vaasa - John G. Boehme
Level Playing Field - David Cross
Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Lose - Robert Ladislas Derr
Football Cloud Practice - Henry Gwiazda
Nuances of Gesture - Amelia Johannes
The Game Embodied - Cheryl Pope
La Course (The Race) - Jean-Michel Rolland

This issue was edited by Avantika Bawa

We would like to thank Alex Young who acted as the Managing Editor, Jenene Nagy for co-curating the Art Projects section, Nicole Weinstock who was the copy editor, and Emily Igawa for her immeasurable support with the website for this issue.

Icon image - Rachel Rampleman, Bodybuilder Study (IFBB/NY Metropolitan Competition, #75), 2010, Giclée print, 36 x 40 inches.
Athleticism - Vol. 12:1, 2015