AND THE WINNER IS... ASKS QUESTIONS ABOUT COMPETITION AND COOPERATION AT HAVERFORD COLLEGE
HAVERFORD, Pa.—All those who work, teach or attend a highly selective college like Haverford have had to work hard and compete against top candidates to earn a spot on campus. But colleges, especially Haverford, also pride themselves on fostering closeness and cooperation within their community. Are those ideals contrary to one another? Is competition corrosive to community or do we, in fact, build community through playing with and against one another? Are cooperation and competition similar values, as when we play a sport as a member of a team, or are they oppositional, as when we play a game head-to-head?
These are the kinds of questions that And the Winner Is…, which runs March 16 through April 20 in the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery at Haverford College, seeks to answer. The exhibit will grapple with the intersections between competition, cooperation and community through a massive skee-ball tournament in the Gallery. The single-elimination tournament will invite all of the nearly 2000 members of the Haverford community—from the faculty and students to the staff and even visitors—to play, and only at the end of the show will its title, And the Winner Is..., be completed by the name of the 2012 champion.
The show is an experiment in social practice, a kind of art that shifts the focus from the paintings or artifacts hanging on the wall to the interactions between the people contained within those walls. Building on the lineage of Dada, Fluxus, Situationism, happenings, conceptual art, performance art and DIY culture, social practice’s art interactions can look like meals, performances, urban gardening, social justice activism, parties or even sporting events like this skee-ball tournament.
This show is considerably more than just the giant skee-ball tournament, though. And the Winner Is… also encompasses a series of ambitious artist residencies and curricular interventions. Artists have been commissioned to create and/or perform new artworks that use the tournament as their launching points. Jong Kyu will host a series of three “Black-Tie Tailgates” in the Gallery to create and propel the fan culture around the school-wide competition. Shaun El C. Leonardo will present a collaborative work, The Orchestra of Failure, featuring student athletes and feats of endurance, as well as lead a two-hour intensive workshop examining the relationship between individual identities and social forces. Sal Randolph will perform Combat Log, an endurance-typing piece in which she encodes the events of the day in the Gallery over many hours on a single roll of typing paper. Director Julie Wyman and editor Vicky Funari (of Haverford’s Independent College Programs) will offer a screening of their documentary, STRONG!, about America’s top Olympic weightlifter Cheryl Haworth, who will also be on hand to discuss the film and give a weightlifting workshop in the Arn and Nancy Tellem Fitness Center. Ted Purves, chair of the California College of the Arts MFA Program in Fine Art and founder of the MFA Area for Social Practice, will give the show’s keynote lecture, “Melees and Other Social Forms: The Implosion of Art, Life and Gaming.” There will even be a transdivisional discussion of the nature of competition, titled “Versus,” featuring coaches and professors from across the College on the evening of April 5.
Exactly what kind of prize are the Haverford skee-ball tournament players competing for? Some of the victor’s spoils are still to be determined. As the competition enters its fifth round—with just 128 of the nearly 2000 initial players still in contention—each remaining player will pledge something that they will give the winner. These 128 pledged items and services will make up the pot of prizes. In addition, artist Lee Walton hopes to whisk the winner away to Greensboro, N.C., where he’s based, for a performative prize: a day of touring the town and being treated like the winner that he or she has proven to be.
The opening reception for And the Winner Is… will take place Friday, March 16, from 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. in the Gallery. A full schedule of events related to the show is attached. We welcome you to attend any of these events and to play some skee-ball in the Gallery yourself. The best time to visit the Gallery may be for the April 20 “Sweet Sixteen” competition between the finalists; that way you will be present for the naming of not only the tournament’s winner, but also of the show. For additional information, artist bios, up-to-date event details and more please check the And the Winner Is… website: http://www.haverford.edu/andthewinneris.
Overseen by the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities and located in Whitehead Campus Center, the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery is open Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Wednesdays until 8 p.m. For more information, contact Matthew Seamus Callinan, campus exhibitions coordinator, at (610) 896-1287 or [email protected], or check the exhibit’s website, andthewinneris.haverford.edu.
Haverford College is located at 370 Lancaster Avenue, Haverford, PA, 19041