‘Rundlederwelten’ | High-brow exhibit for low-brow sport?

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Franz Beckenbauer with orange. Copyright © 2005 VG Bild-Kunst. Link to IHT article on Rundlederwelten.Berlin | If football fans don’t like art and art lovers don’t like football, whither an exhibit combining the two? Andreas Tzortzis poses the question in the International Herald Tribune about the ongoing “Rundlederwelten” (Round leather worlds) show at the Martin-Gropius-Bau (see Nov 4). The show includes challenging material: video installations, abstraction, sculpture, photography, found objects. Curator Dorothea Strauss mentions an e-mail from a soccer club in southern Germany. “They wrote ‘we don’t know anything about art, and we’re scared, but we’re coming anyway,’ ” Strauss says. “And I thought that was great.”

Strauss says the exhibit comes at the proper moment, and she is not referring to the forthcoming World Cup finals. The sport’s relationship to culture and society has been coming into focus. “The last decade has seen the construction of corporate-sponsored soccer ‘cathedrals,’ politicians and chief executives outing themselves as fans, and new soccer journals offering up high-brow dissection of soccer fandom and culture,” writes Tzortzis. “It was perhaps only a matter of time before the arrival of a full-fledged art exhibit.”

About the Author

John Turnbull founded The Global Game in 2003. He was lead editor for The Global Game: Writers on Soccer (University of Nebraska Press, 2008) and has also written on soccer for Afriche e Orienti (Bologna, Italy), the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the New York Times Goal blog, Soccer and Society, So Foot (Paris) and When Saturday Comes. His essay "Alone in the Woods: The Literary Landscape of Soccer's 'Last Defender' " in World Literature Today was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Also for World Literature Today he edited a special section on women's soccer, "World Cup/World Lit 2011," before the Women's World Cup in Germany. The section appeared in the May-June issue. His next project is a book on soccer and faith.

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