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The 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London is well underway. People worldwide are tuning in to support their respective athletes/countries. The battles are televised. Nationalism is updated on Facebook (at least in the United States). Culture is happening. Marked bodies are performing.

I was recently directed to a blog entry that underscores a lost element of the Olympic Games, which was an essential constituent of Pierre de Frédy’s conceptualization of the games: art. Between 1912 and 1954 there were juried competitions for five separate divisions of art: painting, sculpting, architecture, music, and literature. Some of these were then subdivided into specific categories. All entries were required to be inspired by sport.

To some extent, the modern Olympic Games were conceptualized as a forum for the presentation and encouragement of both strong minds and bodies. With artistic competitions revolving around art the mind and the body found a dialogue, a point of intersection. The aesthetics of sport, as well as the aestheticization of sport, ran parallel to its performance. The intellectual shared a common space with the physical. There was a mind-body connection. Sport was art and art was sport.

 

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