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Exhibition Archaeology: ‘Human Game. Winners and Losers’

To celebrate the beginning of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, we recall ‘Human Game. Winners and Losers’, an exhibition held at Stazione Leopolda in Florence in 2006.

The olympic circles are five, each one of a different colour, and they represent the world continents. together, they form the symbol of the Olympic games, not only the biggest and most comprehensive sporting event, but also the occasion in which all countries come together to celebrate unity through fair competition. The Games are a good metaphor to represent what international relationships should be: a balanced mix of patriotism and togetherness, of the specificities of each country and the universal effort put in pursuing a common objective.

Human Game. Winners and Losers, Photo by Francesco Guazzelli, Courtesy MoMu - ModeMuseum Provincie Antwerpen

Clothing is a very important part of the performative activities that go under the rather generic name of ‘sport’; at the same time, fashion has been influenced by sport in many ways, above all because of the innate power of sportswear to convey at once strength and casualness. Focusing on attire to tell something about the role of sport in art, design and life more generally was the goal of the exhibition ‘Human Game. Winners and Losers’. An initiative within the Florence 99% Contemporary, it opened in Florence on 21 June 2006, during Pitti Immagine Uomo 70. It was produced by the Fondazione Pitti Discovery and curated by Francesco Bonami, Maria Luisa Frisa and Stefano Tonchi.

Human Game. Winners and Losers, Photo by Francesco Guazzelli, Courtesy MoMu - ModeMuseum Provincie Antwerpen

The exhibition celebrated the ability of sport to built mythologies, something at which also fashion excels. the link between the two disciplines is played on the aesthetic value of sport, its ‘deep superficiality’, where everything is measured on the qualities – technical as well as apparent – of the surface. The exhibition was thematic, focused on five ‘devices’ used to disentangle the meaning of sport within culture and society: Limit; Games; Mutation; Tradition; Freedom. The display was organised as a spiral in gilt metal netting and the path was articulated in containers with different coverages: grass, asphalt, wooden boards, exercise mats.

Human Game. Winners and Losers, Photo by Francesco Guazzelli, Courtesy MoMu - ModeMuseum Provincie Antwerpen

As immersive as a real match, the exhibition wanted to be a sensorial experience, and all the elements contributed in building a very precise atmosphere – the agonistic and charged-up air of a crowded stadium; this, together with the many designs and relative ‘definitions of fashion’ showcased – from Beene to Puma + Alexander McQueen, from Patagonia to Prada, spanning from leisurewear to proper ‘competition’ attire – contributed to validate the underlying concept of the whole exhibition: how the complex encounter between fashion and sport influences behaviours on different levels, generating a lifestyle.

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