And the Winner Is… investigates competition, cooperation, and community through a series of artist residencies, curricular interventions, and a massive skee-ball tournament involving all members of the Haverford community: students, faculty, staff, and visitors. The Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery will serve as the arena for the tournament, which begins March 16th and ends April 20th. 5 lanes. 1,920 players. 11 tournament rounds. One winner. Only at the end of the show will its title, And the Winner Is…, be complete.

To complement the tournament, artists Shaun El C. Leonardo, Sal Randolph, Lee Walton, and Jong Kyu have been commissioned to create new works that aim to initiate conversations that will play across a number of disciplines and interests at Haverford.  Competition, cooperation, and community directly engage not only these artists but also evolutionary biologists, economists, anthropologists, philosophers, artists, as well as athletes, activists, and anyone with a roommate, a neighbor, or a family.  So Versus, a transdivisional conversation on competition, a visit by three-time Olympian Cheryl Haworth and filmmaker Julie Wyman, and a keynote lecture by Ted Purves, Chair of the MFA Program at CCA, entitled, Melees and Other Social Forms: The Implosion of Art, Life, and Gaming—these events offer opportunities to interrogate the concept of competition across the disciplines and as put to work in both scholarly pursuits and athletic ones.

And the Winner is… will explore what critic Claire Bishop calls the “social turn” in contemporary art, adding social practice to Haverford’s already rich ecology of visual arts and culture.  Since the early 1990s, many artists have created works that build on a 20th century lineage that reaches into Dada, Gutai, Fluxus, Situationism, Happenings, conceptual art, performance, punk, DIY culture, and various forms of institutional critique.  Instead of using traditional media such as paint, stone, wood, etc., these post-studio artists—variously gathered under the terms “relational aesthetics,” “social practice,” and “socially engaged art”—take as their medium the relationships between people, things, and situations.  The art lies not in artifacts produced and not in spectators’ judgments of taste, but in the relational fields shaped by the artists, the participants, and circumstances.  Social practice artists make interactions, and these interactions can look like meals, field trips, choral performances, urban gardening, reading groups, home improvement, block parties, activism, or gift exchange, can be convivial, awkward, or antagonistic, and can be seen as art, as revelatory of political circumstances, or as simply a good time, a waste, or a mystery.

Because play, game cultures, and competitive sports have also been crucial references for social practice artists and theorists, and because the Haverford community sustains both an egalitarian ethos and a culture of excellence, a tournament, at an undeniably grand scale, is an ideal instrument to test the fit and relevance of social practice to our community.  The tournament though isn’t the artwork.  Rather, the artwork, if artwork there is, will reside in the relationships the tournament, the commissioned works, and other events can build between Haverford students, staff, and faculty and the community beyond.

—John Muse and Matthew Seamus Callinan, Exhibition Curators

Participating Artists and Speakers:

Vicky Funari, Cheryl Haworth, Jong Kyu, Shaun El C. Leonardo, Ted Purves, Sal Randolph, Lee Walton, Hank Willis Thomas, and Julie Wyman

And the Winner Is… is being presented by the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities