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Independent Curators International supports the work of curators to help create stronger art communities through experimentation, collaboration, and international engagement.

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Mixed Signals: Artists Consider Masculinity in Sports

Curated by Christopher Bedford

Photographer Collier Schorr has said, “I want to show the whole temperature of masculinity because—and I can only approach it as a woman—from the outside, masculinity has been depicted in very black-and-white terms.” Accordingly, the artists selected for this exhibition reject such comfortable “black-and-white” imagery. Catherine Opie focuses on the dramatic spectacle of high school football, zeroing in on a tense moment of anticipation just as the players are ready to spring into action, while Brian Jungen sets up a meditative stack of boxes repeating the mesmerizing stare of legendary basketball star, Michael Jordan. Hank Willis Thomas’s photographs deconstruct the ways in which race and sexuality are exploited to brand and market male athletes; and Joe Sola’s video works assume an outsider’s perspective on football, addressing the social exclusivity of competitive athletics through humor and farce.

Several artists and theorists have argued convincingly that social identities—including race, gender, and sexuality—are performed, coded, and contingent. However, the male athlete has been overlooked by artists, art historians and curators until fairly recently, because it is only in the past decade that a critical mass of art addressing this subject has grown large enough to allow for such an exploration.

Mixed Signals is an expanded version of Contemporary Projects 11: Hard Targets: Masculinity and American Sports, an exhibition organized by Christopher Bedford for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in fall 2008.

Touring locations
Cranbrook Art Museum
Feb 1, 2009 – Mar 29, 2009
Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture
Oct 8, 2009 – Dec 12, 2009
Wexner Center for the Arts
Jan 29, 2010 – Apr 11, 2010
Art Gallery of Calgary
Apr 30, 2010 – Sep 4, 2010
Middlebury College Museum of Art
Feb 3, 2011 – Apr 17, 2011
Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery, Wesleyan University
Sep 1, 2011 – Oct 23, 2011
The Andy Warhol Museum
May 26, 2011 – Aug 7, 2011