de-sport: The Deconstruction and Reconstruction of Sports through Art

2020.6.27(Sat.) - 2020.9.27(Sun.)



2020.6.27(Sat.) - 2020.9.27(Sun.)
10:00–18:00(until 20:00 Fridays and Saturdays)


21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa


Mondays (open August 10, September 21), August 11, September 23 (Wed)


Adults ¥1,200 (¥1,000)
Students ¥800 (¥600)
18 and Under ¥400 (¥300)
65 and over ¥1,000 (¥1,000)
* ( ) indicate advance ticket prices.
*prices in parentheses for advance sale(reserved) tickets.
*Admission to this exhibition is restricted to time-entry tickets only.
*Please purchase a ticket for the desired admission time slot in advance on the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa website. The tickets will be available from 10:00 June 19.

Purchasing reserved timed-entry tickets / Entering the exhibition
Reserved tickets will be available from 10:00 June 19 until 23:59 on the day before the exhibition viewing date.
Purchase reserved tickets at:
・ Select your desired admission time slot (date + time) and purchase a reserved ticket.
・ Show the QR code screen from your purchase or a printout of the page in order to enter to the exhibition.

*Purchasing tickets will be available online from 10:00 June 19th.
*Japanese version only.

Please note
・ Reserved tickets cannot be used outside the specified admission time slot. Be sure to enter within the time period indicated on the ticket.
・ The number of reserved tickets sold for each time slot is limited (availability on a first come, first served basis).
・ Please be aware that there may be an queue at the start of each time slot.
・ A small number of same-day tickets will be available each day, however we highly recommend purchasing a reserved ticket ahead.
・ Purchased tickets cannot be refunded.
・ Please see the museum website for other details.

For More Information:

21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa

In anticipation of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games next year, this exhibition sets out to reexamine the significance of sports from an artistic perspective. The title, de-sport, is a newly coined term derived from the medieval French word desport, meaning “to enjoy,” and the idea of dismantling and rebuilding sports, expressed by the phrase “deconstructed sport.”* In tracing the etymology of the word “sport,” one finds that it originally meant “an enjoyable diversion from routine labor,” and included artistic pursuits such as music, theatre, painting, and dance. In contrast to contemporary sports – a parade of consummate physiques and skills, and a commodification of competition as entertainment – this exhibition returns to the roots of sports and adopts an artistic viewpoint in order to reconsider these activities as social constructs that reflect various issues of the day, including play, the body, the state, war, and non-verbal communication. Don’t miss this chance to watch and experience sports, deconstructed and reconstructed from the artistic perspectives of ten artists from nine countries around the globe.

*The exhibition title was inspired by Eugene Kangawa’s solo exhibition “supervision / Desport.”

List of works / description

Related Projects

The Exercising Nation-State: KAZAMA Sachiko talks about Dyslymplia 2680.

With: KAZAMA Sachiko, TAKAHASHI Yosuke (Curator, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa)
Date/time: July 25, 2020 (Sat.) 14:00-15:30 (doors open 13:45)
Venue: Lecture Hall, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa
Seats: About 25 (First come, First served. With Live Streaming.)
Admission: Free
*The archived video will be available online at a later date.
*In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the event will be held with space between seats.
*Content subject to change

Exhibition Composition

  • YANAI Shino, Blue Passages 2016 Collection of the artist
    ©YANAI Shino

    Origins and Meanings of the Olympic Torch

    In the Olympics of Ancient Greece, the Olympic flame symbolized the status of sport as an offering to the gods, and the dead. The torch relay of the modern Olympics was however invented, with the involvement of various artists, by the Nazis for propaganda purposes, to assert their claim as rightful heirs to European civilization. Blue Passages in which the artist takes an Olympic torch and retraces the route taken by philosopher Walter Benjamin during his flight from Nazi Germany, could be seen as rejecting such politicization of art and sport, and allowing the sacred flame to revert to its original meaning.

    Artist: YANAI Shino

  • Allora & Calzadilla Track and Field 2011 Video, Collection of the artist
    ©Allora & Calzadilla photo:Andrew Bordwin

    The Exercising Nation-State

    Since modern times, sports have taken on a role of moral education, fostering an environment where people gather into groups and respect a particular set of rules. Individuals train their bodies so as to perform in accordance to the rules of being part of a group, strengthening bonds within civil society and the nation-state. This also led to a shift towards a practical education that values the spirit of placing the team above the individual. This group-focused aspect of sports is particularly noticeable in global sporting events such as the Olympic Games. As with the national anthem and raising of the national flag, honor is placed not on the individual, but instead the nation. Here, we will rethink the relationship between the function of sports to governments and art, through the works of four artists.

    Artist: Allora & Calzadilla, Charles FRÉGER, Christian JANKOWSKI

    [Gallery 2]
    Charles FRÉGER, From the “RIKISHI” series 2002-2003 and other works.
    *The exhibition of KAZAMA Sachiko artworks have been cancelled due to the change of this exhibition period.

    [Gallery 3]
    Allora & Calzadilla Track and Field 2011

    [Public Zone]
    Christian JANKOWSKI Heavy Weight History 2013

  • Xijing Men Chapter 3 Welcome to Xijing - Xijing Olympics 2008
    Collection of 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa
    ©Xijing Men
    photo: KIOKU Keizo

    Games Without Competition

    Baseball, soccer, rugby, tennis, golf, basket ball, table tennis, skiing, swimming, sumo, gymnastics. All of these are defined as a sport, that being “the general term for a game played as a competition or establishment of a record through the skilful use of trained bodies or technology according to a set of rules.” In the pre-modern world, however, the term set itself apart from everyday activities such as work, aligning more the ideas of enjoyment and relaxation, and was even used in the context of artistic pursuits including music, theatre, and dance. Yet, the modern definition of sports appears to have grown distant from the root of the word sport, that being a general term for “play” to be “enjoyed.” Here, through the attempts of artists to return sports to the field of play, we consider what a pure sports without competition, and also not based on efficient training of the body or victory according to rules, i.e., “pure play” might be.

    Artist: Erwin WURM, Xijing Men

  • THE EUGENE Studio Mr.Tagi’s room and dream 2014
    Collection of the artist
    ©THE EUGENE Studio / Eugene Kangawa
    *Scheduled to exhibit reconstructed works

    Creation as the Source of Sports

    If we were to break sports down into a number of constituent elements, they might include physical training, competitiveness, non-vocal communication, musical rhythm, military-like strategy, coincidence, gambling, and a monetary economy, among other elements. On the other hand, if we were to think of something that is comprised of these elements, would we think of it as sports? To put it another way, is it possible to invent a brand new sport without compromising this original construction?
    Mr. Tagi’s room and dream by THE EUGENE Studio presents itself as a possible answer to these questions. The work consists of a pseudo-documentary by the fictional sports historian Mr. Tagi, who documents a new sport consisting of playing chess and performing jazz music at the same time. If the sports we have now were developed to allow people to become so engrossed in their activity that they could escape daily life, then one might say the creative fun that lies at the root of modern sports is cleverly expressed in this work. This exhibition presents a new version of the work, originally presented in 2014 as the artist’s graduation project, in the form of a six-screen video installation.

    Artist: THE EUGENE Studio

  • Gabriel OROZCO Ping-Pond Table 1998
    Collection of 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa
    ©Gabriel OROZCO
    photo: KIOKU Keizo

    The Cosmos in a Ball

    In modern sports, where bodies and records are measured while improving structure and movement in the name of efficiency, one can see the logic of science and engineering becoming bound together. However, in ancient times exercise was a method for communicating with the likes of nature spirit, gods or the dead that normally one could not see, and the ability to lose oneself in the act of exercising was more important than efficiency. Pierre de COUBERTIN, founder of the International Olympic Committee, once said, “For me sport was a religion... with religious sentiment.” Even in modern times, one can see certain similarities to the religious act of prayer and the physical act of sport.
    In ball sports, too, such as soccer, the ancient Japanese sport of kemari, or rugby, we can also see how sport reflects the societal values of a certain age, from the way the sport takes on different forms in different societies. Here, we will consider sports in the context of matters that exist as a part of, yet outside of, sport itself.

    Artist: Gabriel OROZCO, Liam GILLICK



Organized by:

21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa [Kanazawa Art Promotion and Development Foundation]

Sponsored by:
Goldwin Inc./Neurtalworks

IO Data Device Inc.