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"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope

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Thousand Flowers tapestry (15th Century) - Beaune, France (detail)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Naked hockey art at Whistler

OK, I promise this is the last post about nude olympic athletes (see previous posts here and here) but I have to comment on a work of art which is currently on display in Whistler. Called "Slapshotolus", it is installed in Pride House, a "welcoming space for gay winter Olympians" near the athlete's village.

The bronze sculpture depicts a male hockey player wearing nothing but helmet, skates and gloves, about to take a slap shot:

Sculptor Edmund Haakonson describes his work:

There is also an element honoring the Canadian sense of humor as expressed in popular television with shows like “This Hour Has Twenty Two Minutes,” “Royal Canadian Air Farce” and “Rent a Goalie.” The image of ancient nude sculpture makes perfect sense to us, the image of a hockey player makes perfect sense, the hybrid of the two has a decidedly amusing result. There is an element of the absurd in a hockey player wearing only skates, gloves and helmet, especially for anyone who has actually played hockey. There is however, no conflict in the absolutely serious and the humorous co-existing in a single work, I would suggest that it reflects the true reality of life.

The statue is of course a parody of the Discobolus by Greek sculptor Myron, created around 450 BC:

I think this sculpture is great - it's an homage to the ancient Greek origins of the Olympic Games (and the Greek fixation on the naked male body), a salute to the aesthetic beauty of the fit young athletes from around the world gathered in Vancouver, and at the same time a cheeky (pun intended) wink at Canada's obsession with hockey and our tendency to elevate hockey players to god-like status. Well done.

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