I had the privilege this summer of writing a text for a project called Muscle Panic by toronto-based artist Hazel Meyer, presented by Mercer Union as part of their offsite programming, in partnership with Sunday Drive Art Projects. Hazel used her brilliant brain and expert hands to transform a barn in rural Warkworth, Ontario into an imaginary “after-hours sports club for Muscle Panic, a rogue girl’s basketball team in need of a space in which to train, scheme, and otherwise spend time together, often at night.” The text was for the team’s Handbook.
Sports is one of my favourite topics, and I don’t get to write about it pretty much ever, so this was a lot of fun. Here’s an excerpt:
Part installation, part performance, part absence, somewhere in between “real” and imagined, we encounter Muscle Panic through the material remnants of the team’s practice and play: the uniforms they sweat through and peel off, the custom basketballs waiting to be dribbled. Is this a long-abandoned clubhouse, or might the team walk into their makeshift gym at any moment and start running drills? Either way, something about this whole thing feels a bit illicit. We are intruders, trespassing in the sacrosanct space of a team who prefers to meet at night, when we’ve all gone home and no one is around to supervise. Muscle Panic plays in a time and place that is willfully unclear, deviating from the “normal” rhythms of recreation, broken off from the clarity of either “past” or “present.” The fantasy gymnasium becomes a “simultaneously mythic and real contestation of the space in which we live,” a space in which the hot smell of bodies hangs in the air.[i]
[i] Michel Foucault, “Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias, October (1984 ).