Hard Targets

Christopher Bedford



This publication accompanies the exhibition Hard Targets (Wexner Center for the Arts, The Ohio State University January 30-April 11, 2010).

This exhibition takes on sports and masculinity as its central themes in a collection of some 70 thought-provoking artworks created over the past 25 years by 21 different artists. Images of women—from the goddess Venus to the Virgin Mary—have long been a classic subject in visual arts. In Hard Targets, varied treatments of masculinity get a turn in the spotlight. Hard Targets seeks to revise and complicate our time-honored stereotypes of male athletes and athleticism (as aggressive, heterosexual, hypercompetitive, and remote) by presenting alternative, possibly more democratic, interpretations of subjects frequently revealed to us only in authorized and frankly commercial images. The artists in the show instead investigate sports and masculine identity through topics ranging from biology to business to celebrity, played out in locker rooms, stadiums, and advertising campaigns.

In the videos, photographs, paintings, sculptures, and installations of Hard Targets, you’ll find projects that are funny, irreverent, sexy, incisive, and poignant. Featured artists in the show, which was organized by Curator of Exhibitions Christopher Bedford, are Doug Aitken, Matthew Barney, Mark Bradford, Harun Farocki, Andreas Gursky, Douglas Gordon, David Hammons, Brian Jungen, Byron Kim, Jeff Koons, Cary Leibowitz, Glenn Ligon, Kori Newkirk, Catherine Opie, Philippe Parreno, Paul Pfeiffer, Collier Schorr, Joe Sola, Sam Taylor-Wood, Hank Willis Thomas, and Jonas Wood. In their examinations, you’ll discover how the ways we view and consume sports stars and athletic events are structured by systems of desire and identification more complex (and more fascinating) than most spectators and fans ever realize.

Exhibition credits

Hard Targets is a revised presentation of Mixed Signals: Artists Consider Masculinity in Sports, a traveling exhibition organized and circulated by iCI (Independent Curators International), New York, that was itself an expanded version of Contemporary Projects 11: Hard Targets—Masculinity and Sports, an exhibition organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. (Christopher Bedford is the curator of all three presentations.) The Mixed Signals exhibition, tour, and catalogue were made possible, in part, by The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, the iCI Advocates, the iCI Partners, Agnes Gund, Gerrit and Sydie Lansing, and Barbara and John Robinson.

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