MAIN SPACE EXHIBITION / OFF-SITE PERFORMANCE
APRIL 2 – APRIL 13, 2003
RECEPTION: FRIDAY, APRIL 2 AT 8 PM
PRESENTED IN PART WITH M:ST
LOCATION – STRIDE GALLERY
1004, MACLEOD TRAIL S.E, CALGARY, ALBERTA
In 1999, Liss Platt created the persona ART JOCK as a way to fuse her two primary identities, as artist and athlete, into one practice. The works she produces as ART JOCK are all traces of sporting activities and represent the gesture and physicality of the sports she plays. While the personae ‘Art Jock’ is ironic – juxtaposing two stereotypically opposite cultures and mocking the ‘bad boys’ of art – the work is a genuine attempt to transform sports into art and to carve out a space for the female-athlete-artist. For MST, Platt presented three aspects of this work, including an exhibition of puck paintings in the main space, an off-site performance where she created a puck painting, and an experimental/laboratory space in the project room that displayed a wide range of ART JOCKartifacts.
LISS PLATT is a New York artist currently living and teaching in Hamilton, Ontario. She has exhibited her work in various galleries and festivals across the US and Canada including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Herland Film Festival, Calgary; The Knitting Factory, New York; and New Works Gallery, IL. Platt has received numerous grants and fellowships including a scholarship for a seven-week residency, The Sporting Life, at the Banff Centre for the Arts.
Over the last 5 years artists have increasingly adopted the subject of sports to explore gender, identity and popular culture. (Think Mathew Barney and Paul Pfeiffer.)Why is sports a subject being explored through art now? Various reasons may contribute to the intersection of sports and art. Athletes are the perfect receptacle to play out one’s dreams and fantasies of being the best in a success-oriented culture; the media attention dedicated to athletes has rendered them part of the pantheon of celebrity culture; the art world’s practice of catapulting certain artists into stardom to fuel an ever-expanding art market parallels the marketing strategies that contribute to the cult status of the athlete.
Art Jock is a persona, created and embodied by Liss Platt, that fuses both artist and athlete into one identity. The crux of this identity is predicated on the idea that Art Jock plays sports in order to make art, a seemingly contradictory proposition on many levels. Referencing both Eleanor Antin and Adrien Piper’s use of the persona to call attention to gender and racial disparities in society, Art Jock is a societal gender-bender. Art Jock self-consciously inhabits the
traditionally masculine role of both the artist and the athlete. She also underscores the similarity between playing sports and making art. Finally, she neutralizes the angst associated with making art by reminding viewers that art is about energy, activity and should be simply pleasurable.
Art Jock‘s painting process-shooting hockey pucks at painted 4′ x 6’ plywood canvases while wearing in-line skates-literally parallels the exertion necessary in playing sports. Art Jock ironically imitates Jackson Pollack’s action painting style while critiquing the artworld that embraced his bad boy attitude and placed ,him into the art historical canon of male (genius) artists. ln contrast to Pollock’s ‘busy paint strewn canvases; however, Art Jock‘s paintings are minimal using gestural marks and subtle color that are created when the pucks (in some cases the pucks are painted) strike the canvas, leaving traces of paint and puck rubber on the surface. ln this way, Art Jock both inverts and embraces stereotypical gender roles by comfortably inhabiting them both —- bad boy artist and delicate elegant painter.
Like the puck paintings, Art Jock‘s large-scale bruise prints reference sports play and its after effects, thus positioning Art Jock in a clearly masculine role. By scanning her bruises, an effect of her hockey playing, she creates abstract studies of the body that resemble painting more than photography. Using a warm palette and presented as larger-than-life, the prints are visually seductive which belies the exertion and pain that are implicit in their creation.
Art Jock makes videos that simulate real time physical activity. ln her mountain bike video, viewers ride with Art Jock and see what she sees and hear what she hears. Unlike the puck paintings, which require specific hockey playing skills or her bruise prints that are the result of her hockey playing, her mountain bike video invites viewers to voyeuristically partake in her physical activity. Viewers are encouraged to feel the rush of adrenaline involved in playing sports and by
extension making art.
Art Jock addresses the quandary of being both an artist and a jock. By creating a persona that reflects her identity, Platt breaks away from the culturally prescribed roles of gender and class. Art Jock is an amalgamation of low culture (sports) and high (conceptual) art values. ln making art objects from performative sports play, Art Jock pokes fun at the artworld while relishing her
own personal art practice.
KARINA SKVIRSKY is an arist and educator.