Unlike Guatemalan conceptual artist Darío Escobar, most people who pass through the sporting goods section of a store would not pause to consider the accumulation of mass-produced industrial objects like soccer balls and the cultural value that they gain via those who consume them. Escobar’s sculptural works make use of balls that have had their patches removed and resewn inside out, bats that have been broken and configured to form skylines, and skateboards that have been cut into pieces and reformed using gold hinges.
“My work starts from a reflection about the industrial object, sculptures created with soccer balls, skateboards, baseball bats, etc.,” the artist said in a statement, adding that his work is about the “persistent thinking of identical objects in a sculptural operation; a new configuration of an element repeated obsessively, such as when showing a product in supermarkets or sports stores.”
Escobar says that he is inspired by the way that objects like soccer balls are collected and displayed in an attempt to make them more appealing to consumers. “The artwork also tells us about the accumulation not from the perspective of the soccer balls’ ready-made individuality but from the amassing of merchandise as raw material for contemporary sculpture,” he said. In an interview with Reigning Champ, Escobar said that his manipulation of the objects is a way to “change the angle of view” and gain a new perspective. At larger retailers, balls are displayed at or below eye-level in individual packaging that elevate the intrigue of the product, while Escobar’s sculptures place them high above the viewer and bunch them together so that each ball is like the last. The works turn these merchandise displays on their head, creating unique ways to observe the construction of the sporting good object and its connection to the world at large.
To see more of Escobar’s conceptual sculptures using ready-made objects, check out his website.
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Project Backboard began in 2014 when Daniel Peterson, a former college basketball player and employee of the Memphis Grizzlies, noticed the neglected state of several basketball courts scattered around the city. To revive these spaces, Peterson began to refurbish the courts with small improvements—filling in cracks or repainting the basic lines needed for a regulation game.
As Peterson began updating courts across Memphis, his interest widened to include ways he could not only improve his local courts, but generate excitement in surrounding neighborhoods for their public parks. After learning local artist Anthony Lee was already designing an installation for a nearby court, he partnered with the artist to paint the park’s gray asphalt with bright blue and pink designs. The collaboration marked the beginning of Project Backboard, while also inspiring Peterson work with local artists who were already engaged within a chosen community.
“I prefer to work with artists who have a connection to the park or city where we are working,” Peterson told Colossal. “Having the artist on site is very helpful for installation and, especially if it is a city I am not as familiar with, a local artist can create a work with more meaning and context. That said, there are artists I have worked with in the past that I would love to work with again if the right opportunity comes along!”
After reviving several basketball courts in Memphis, Project Backboard has moved on to produce projects in St. Louis and Los Angeles. Currently the organization is working with cities along the East Coast, specifically Baltimore and New Rochelle, New York. To explore other updated courts, and how you might be able to collaborate on an installation in your own city, visit Project Blackboard’s website or Instagram. (via Artsy and the National Endowment for the Arts)
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In a unique collaboration between French fashion brand Pigalle and design agency Ill-Studio, the Paris Duperré basketball court was recently redesigned and repainted with a vibrant new color scheme. The narrow basketball court is nestled between two apartment buildings in the 9th arrondissement and has become a backdrop of sorts for unconventional color schemes, the first of which appeared in 2015. Photos courtesy Alex Penfornis and Sébastien Michelini. (via It’s Nice That)
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