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Indianapolis Museum of Art Partners with Major Sports Organizations for Venice Biennale
U.S. All-Around champion David Durante rehearsing for the 2011 la Biennale di Venezia U.S. Pavilion exhibition Gloria by Allora & Calzadilla, presented by the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Photo by Andrew Bordwin.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN.- The Indianapolis Museum of Art and Allora & Calzadilla have announced that they will be partnering with national athletic organizations USA Gymnastics and USA Track & Field on three newly commissioned sculptures for the U.S. Pavilion exhibition Gloria at the 54th La Biennale di Venezia. The pieces—“Body in Flight (Delta),” “Body in Flight (American),” and “Track and Field”—will incorporate performances by professional gymnasts and runners. Olympic gold medalist Dan O’Brien (Decathlon, 1996), Olympic silver medalist Chellsie Memmel (Women’s Gymnastics Team, 2008), and U.S. All-Around champion David Durante (Men’s Gymnastics, 2007) will perform at the pavilion during the vernissage (June 1-3, 2011). The installations will mark the first time that athletes have performed as part of the U.S. Pavilion.

Gloria will feature six new commissions by Allora & Calzadilla conceived partly in response to the pavilion site. Combining performance, sculpture, video, and sound elements, the works will draw on competitive enterprises such as the Olympic Games, international commerce, the military industrial complex, and even the Biennale itself, to explore the concepts of competition and nationalism. The works playfully combine installation and performance art to create artistic experiments that explore the nature of physical, visual, and audible sensory experiences.

“Body in Flight (Delta)” and “Body in Flight (American)” are realistically painted wooden scale reproductions of the latest industrial designs for business class seats found on U.S. commercial airlines. The sculptures will replace the wooden balance beam and pommel horse, creating a unique apparatus for gymnastic and dance performances. Throughout the duration of the exhibition, gymnasts and dancers will perform routines developed by Allora & Calzadilla that creatively utilize the seats’ form, scale, and function through the rubric of classical gymnastics and dance.

“Track and Field,” which will be installed in front of the U.S. pavilion, will feature a massive, overturned military tank that has been repurposed by superimposing a functional treadmill above its right track. Runners will run on the treadmill at regularly scheduled intervals throughout the exhibition.

“These performative sculptures will use poetic shock and unexpected juxtaposition to raise questions about the relationship between the human body and art, militarism, commerce, sports, and international identity,” said Lisa Freiman, Senior Curator and Chair of the IMA’s Department of Contemporary Art and Commissioner of the U.S. Pavilion at the 2011 La Biennale di Venezia.

The title Gloria, which translates from Italian and Spanish to Glory, points to the pomp and splendor of the national pavilions format in Venice. Gloria references military, religious, spiritual, Olympic, economic, and cultural grandeur, as well as the female name itself, and the numerous pop songs that it has inspired,“We are interested in contamination, profanation, and paradox. We want the material nature of things and the embodied nature of sense to be paramount,” said Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla.

"USA Gymnastics is pleased to have the opportunity to work with an accomplished group of artists to internationally showcase the beauty and artistry of the sport of gymnastics," said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. "We are honored to partner with the Indianapolis Museum of Art and have the opportunity to be a part of this prestigious exhibit.”

"USA Track & Field is honored to be part of this innovative exhibit," said Stephanie Hightower, President and Chairman of the Board of USA Track & Field. "Combining the beauty of our sport and the excellence of the two artists in this installation is an exciting and ambitious endeavor. We are proud to be involved."

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