Football is the quintessential communal experience. Across the world – in stadiums, bars and living rooms – countless milions of people experience collective emotion through the teams they support. As one, they feel the ecstatic joy of a goal scored, or the crushing pain of a brutal defeat. It’s a mass experience, communal emotion on a huge scale. Every day, football does with ease what art constantly tries to do: it makes people feel.
And because it plays such an important part in the everyday life of so many people, it has been a recurring topic in fine art for centuries. From Flemish landscapes filled with children kicking around animal bladders to multi-screen contemporary video installations, football acts as a symbol: a metaphor for national obsession, passion, physicality, belief, and any number of human emotions and experiences.
But it’s not a one-way relationship: art’s job is to deconstruct the world, to help us figure out what everything means, to offer new perspectives. The artists featured in OOF peel back the layers of meaning in this obsessive sport, and help us make sense of something bigger and more ungraspable in the process. OOF hopefully goes a little way towards laying all of that bare. Football and art have been intertwined for centuries, we’re just going to try to unravel that a little bit.
In this issue:
Slapped on the front of issue four is An Unnecessary and Excessive Display of Celebration by Juno Calypso. There’s more of her new football-inspired series inside, where art historian Ben Street tells us how the whole history of pink in art is written into the fleshy fabric of Juno’s work. Eddy Frankel searches for the truth in the myth surrounding Arsenal’s 1992 North Bank Mural, while Mark Wallinger shares stories about the role of football in his life and work. Elsewhere, Rosemary Waugh checks out Rene Magritte’s La Représentation and questions the validity of VAR’s hyper-truthful version of events.
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