When sport is much more than just a game

Forget the white cube for a moment. For Sports Show, the walls of Pari, a new artist-run initiative (ARI) in Parramatta, have been painted turf-green. A chequered flag design papers one corner, and jerseys designed by Dylan Brown and Michael Fardon for Dhinawan Dreaming Connection Aboriginal Rugby League Club hang in the window. Curated by members of the Pari board, Rebecca Gallo, Talitha Hanna and Tian Zhang, Sports Show looks beyond athleticism to explore the isolation and camaraderie, seriousness and play, personal and political embodied by sport.

Removed from their plinths, the golden trophy figurines in The Field take on a strange quality.

Removed from their plinths, the golden trophy figurines in The Field take on a strange quality.Credit:Document Photography

Marian Abboud and Vicki Van Hout’s collaborative work Juice involved three participants reimagining their sports routines during Covid. In photographs, banners and screening across a stack of boxy televisions, a bag of oranges becomes a prop for women dressed in business attire to jog, weightlift and stretch with. One performer powers along in high heels lugging the lumpy bag of fruit, before contorting herself into yogic poses no pencil skirt is made for. A pandemic-inspired work, for me it transcended that context and presented a profoundly absurd yet relatable version of a woman trying to “have it all”.

In Elvis Richardson’s work The Field, a crowd of small gold trophy figurines that would once have stood proudly on a mantlepiece are frozen mid-run, throw or hit, their recipients long since forgotten. Beneath The Field is Credits, a video displaying rolling footage of the amusing and poignant name plaques and decorative elements from these awards. Richardson’s works deconstruct this prized yet familiar object, highlighting how peculiar it is in form and concept, and inviting us to reconsider how individual achievement is acknowledged.

The exhibition moves effortlessly between artists’ takes on its theme, weaving threads across cultural, social and political contexts. Feras Shaheen’s Cross Cultures series draws on his involvement with urban subcultures including hip hop, skating and football freestyle, and the spontaneous qualities of the works reflect the subject matter. Chris’ Camera (2020), a sculpture made of a road sign and camcorder that films the viewer through a fish-eye lens and screens them back to themselves, deftly treads the line between being contained and open, capturing the spirit of street culture.