First draft here:
Rehearsals for Victory is an installation from 2016. It was comprised of an instructional video (20’58’’) playing on a white monitor positioned on a wall, with 3 pairs of black headphones on the side and in front of the monitor, a podium seen from birds-eye was represented by 3 squares made out of white tape on the floor. A person, dressed casual, sits in front of the camera at a distance, and talking to the camera, explains a number of principles and basis and presents 17 exercises, in a consistent and neutral rhythm.
I’ve developed a scenario for the performance based on different fragments from gymnastic books from communist era in Romania to today, together with other text from other sports. The scenario was divided in 4 parts – in the 1st part I am exploring Victory Gymnastics’ history, principle and basis, the 2nd to the 4th part explores the Floor, Podium and Object. Each exercise was based on a specific movement from the choreographies that victorious gymnast are performing on the Podium at international competitions, simplified. This video was filmed with a fixed camera at Lia Manoliu stadium in the gymnastic hall.
Rehearsals for Victory explores the premise of a fictitious sport, Victory Gymnastics, based on the movements of Romanian gymnasts on the victory podium in international competitions. In Romania, the female gymnasts have played a tremendous role in validating the country as a prosperous nation and a sporting power starting from Ceausescu’s regime and up to present times. The video explores the language of gymnastics, the usage of a vocabulary that is full of militaristic imagery, used by the media, and on the disciplining of the body and be in the service of the nation.
what A technical book (54 pages, 23.5x17cm), illustrates a number of 50 exercises routines situated on a white rectangular form to the left side of the monitor. Each routine has a different length. The illustrations present a body in black and white, that goes into each part of the routine presented as a sequence and a text that explains each each movement in the sequence. The book is divided into 4 chapters: Floor, Going up, Podium, Objects. At the end of the book there is a list of definitions and guide to orient on the podium.
how The illustrations are based on sequences taken from videos with gymnasts on podium at International Gymnastic competitions. This sequences were then exported as images and using a 3D model, a selection of key movements were reenacted. Each 3D instance was afterwards exported as a 2D image. The text that describes each movement was based on gymnastic language that was transformed to be understandable to everybody that reads. The book is taking the form of the gymnastic communist books in the '70 and was printed with hard covers with a white stamp of the model posing in a victorious stance.
The postures of victorious gymnasts, with their medals at their chest, gazing at the symbols of the country when the national anthem starts playing and the flag of the country is positioned above all others, has become, throughout the decades, a highly ritualized choreography. The book looks through these choreographies and reenacting them tries to situate these recognizable postures as something that can be measured, quantified and deconstructed. In recreating these historic ritualized gestures of victory, the movements and attitudes of the trained body become central, provoking the viewers to think of the relationship between body and identity.
what On the same white rectangular shape, next to the book there is stack of paper that contains fragments of a conversations between A and B. There is a number of 52 pages printed on white continuous paper on a dot matrix printer. On each page there are fragments of a conversation.
how Listening to a number of random gymnastic international competitions, I selected some of the dialogues between sportscasters, and then I put all this fragments together, imagined as a conversation between 2 moderators that are watching a Victory Gymnastic competition. The fragments are divided in 6 parts, 5 for 5 gymnasts that either win or lose, and the last one is a final conversation after the victory.
why The conversation was developed to juxtapose both the book and the video, which consist of rigid and technical language that explains and arguments the discipline of the body. The dialogue has the role to show how the bodies are seen in a competitions, something that can easily be appropriated by the country in victory. The language of the moderators, based on real content, shows how forms of nationalism are being inserted in international sports and what is the political aspect of the sports.
Second Draft (after group feedback)
Steve's note to all: I suggest you cut the headings: what, how & why. The text will hold up well.