Jaskirt Dhaliwal’s Anti-Spectacular Portraits

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Jaskirt Dhaliwal’s photographs are very similar to those I’ve posted earlier by Andrew Esiebo and by Moira Lovell. In researching contemporary art about this sport, I’ve found huge differences between work engaging the men’s game and the women’s. Work engaging the men’s game tends to address men’s football as spectacle – thus Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno’s cinematic project Zidane: a 21st Century Portrait, Jürgen Teller’s film of himself watching Germany lose to Brazil (Germany 0: Brazil 2), Harun Faroki’s Deep Play. One can see Lyle Ashton Harris’s project as a meditation on the politics of the football spectacle (e.g. Blow Up, see earlier post). The televisual spectacle, the crowds, the iconic figure at the center of it all – this is the subject of art about the men’s game. Women footballers are overwhelmingly isolated by the artist’s camera – rarely pictured as a team – and they are frequently photographed in street clothes, off the pitch, in ordinary and fairly anonymous settings. As Dhaliwal writes on her website, “The idea that some of the nation’s best female footballers could pass you on the street and you would not know them is a telling fact in a world where male footballers are ranked as celebrities.” Artists make this statement over and over again about women footballers. Nobody knows who they are. The woman sitting next to you on the train could be an international player, and you’d never know it. You’d never know it because you have to work hard to learn who these women are – trekking out to minor pitches in the outskirts of the metropolis to sit with a few hundred folks watching an untelevised match played between largely amateur athletes. That’s where you’ll find the women Dhaliwal photographed; their images are not splashed across the tabloids, broadcast on your televisions, or peopling advertisements for everything under the sun.

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