Amidst so many tearful medal ceremonies and soaring strings, it’s easy to forget that the Olympics--and any other televised sports event, for that matter--are just a blip in the relentless training schedule of the average world-class athlete. Swimmers spend thousands of hours staring at the same lane markers, while cyclists make millions of trips around the cote d’azure. It can be, quite frankly, pretty boring. The Games We Play, a new series from photographer James Deavin, speaks to the repetitive, sweat-stained reality of life as an athlete.
Deavin’s series, which is for sale on 20x200 right now, was shot in the U.K. and U.S. over the past five years. The images might be less glamorous than the perfectly manicured venues we’re used to seeing on cable, but they’re far more interesting, full of frayed edges, rust stains, and cracked boards. “Setting out to photograph such places, I decided to portray them as simply as possible,” Deavin explains. “Therefore, the photographs are not manipulated in the darkroom or on a computer. The photographs were shot in available light if indoors, and in flat light if outside.”
By reframing them in unexpected ways, Deavin abstracts familiar sports venues into nearly alien landscapes. Long Jump Pit’s abandoned, sand-strewn box looks oddly lonely. In Velodrome, the carefully crafted track is chipped and warped--as El Cyclista put it, “you can practically smell the sweat and blood.”
The London-born Deavin got his start as a war correspondent in Bosnia, later immigrating to New York and building up a reputation as an artist, closely tied to gallerist/entrepreneur Jen Bekman. He inspired Internet-wide (erm, art-Internet-wide) debate in 2006 with Photographs from the New World, a series of “photographs” taken from the annals of his explorations in Second Life. Head over to 20x200 to check out the rest of the series.