Jean-Maxime Dufresne & Virginie Laganière Media Linien, Olympiadorf (Munich), 2017.
Photo : courtesy of the artists

The Shadow of Sports: Post-Olympiques / Olympic Afterlife

Bernard Schütze
Above and beyond the varied displays of athletic prowess and competitiveness that are at the core of the Olympics, this international mega-sporting event is also a stage for multiple articulations of media spectacle, showcasing nationalism, city branding, urban transformation, socio-political disruption, burdensome financial commitments, and more. Hosting an event of such magnitude has a long-term impact on the cities where the Games are presented. It is the enduring and complex influence of the event long after the closing ceremony that the artists Jean-Maxime Dufresne and Virginie Laganière set their sights on with their extensive exhibition series Post-Olympiques / Olympic Afterlife (2014 – 18).

Shown in several contexts, the project brings together close to forty works — videos, photographs, installations, sound works, texts, and design objects — that take on their full significance when displayed in relation to one another. The project as a whole is the fruit of on-site research and artistic explorations carried out in six cities with controversial Olympic histories: Beijing, Athens, Montréal, Sarajevo, Munich, and Tokyo. The result is a compelling reflection on how the legacy of this iconic event is inflected through historical contingencies and inventive acts of citizen appropriation, architectural repurposing, and political intervention.
Instead of the grand narrative that generally accompanies the world’s ultimate sports forum and media magnet, Dufresne and Laganière highlight the minor narratives that they uncovered over the course of their artistic research and fieldwork at several former host cities. In its multimodal and dialogical form of display, the vast body of work provides multiple entry points into what the artists describe as “Olympic lifecycles.” In the most recent iteration, presented at the Maison de la culture de Côte-des-Neiges in 2017, the works were presented in “chapters” devoted to each of the epicentres, with the concept of an Olympic Afterlife serving as a link between the various chapters, which were approached from different perspectives.

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This article also appears in the issue 103 - Sportification

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