The World Cup is reaching a fever pitch (pardon the pun), and the art world is taking note, with a number of recent exhibitions and projects that explore “the beautiful game” and its cultural importance. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s brilliant Fútbol show continues through the end of the month July 28.
If you can’t get to LA, take heart, and look no further than your internet browser for American artist Paul Pfeiffer’s web-specific piece, Jerusalem, 2014.
The temporary online work is a montage of doctored footage from soccer games, wherein athletes have been partially “erased” from the recordings, appearing as ghostly figures that flicker on and off the field. Among the matches depicted are the 1966 World Cup final game between England and West Germany (won in overtime by England), still one of the all-time most-watched games in history.
Stills from the video
In Jerusalem, Pfeiffer carries forward themes explored in his Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse series, photographs depicting professional sporting events where central components to the game—the ball, players’ teams and numbers, even the athletes themselves—are removed from the images. Devoid of the symbols we are so used to seeing in sports, these new images re-contextualize the notion of public spectacle and mass gatherings, celebrity veneration and heroism.
Top: Pfeiffer’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1), 2001. Below: Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (25), 2006; fujiflex digital c-prints
Jerusalem’s soundtrack is similarly beautiful (and eerie); a steady stream of chanting crowds, individual athlete’s voices, and nature sounds like buzzing bees—underscoring the idea of the swarms which follow the games.