Nigerian artist Andrew Esiebo’s diptych series, Alter Gogo (2010) juxtaposes portraits of women standing on their home ground in their team uniform with portraits of the same women surrounded by their grandchildren. The Los Angeles County Musem of Art just opened a show celebrating contemporary art about “the beautiful game” – but women’s football is intensely marginalized in the exhibition. I’ve been cruising the interwebs looking for work centered on women’s relationship to this sport, and was reminded of Esiebo’s work as I was looking up work from “Beyond Football – shifting interests and identity,” an exhibition that was on view in Berlin (at Savvy Contemporary) during the 2011 Women’s World Cup; the exhibition was also staged in Lagos through the Goethe Institute there.
From the artist’s website:
“Alter Gogo” is a diptych portrait series featuring a group of grandmothers who are members of the Gogo Getters Football Club in Orange Farm, South Africa. For them, playing football is more than a recreational activity; it’s also had a profound social and physical impact on their lives. In a community plagued with social and physiological problems like high unemployment, crime, alcoholism, diabetes and high-blood pressure, football serves as a salve. And all too often in collective imaginary, African women are located in the sphere of tradition and oppression, especially when they reach old age. With the grandmothers’ regalia and their proud postures both on the pitch and at home, “Alter Gogo” creates a powerful socio-cultural scenario in which soccer is the means and expression of a new gender and generation identity.”