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Gold Medal Performance

Grant Stewart

Gold Medal Performance is a digitally altered video of champion figure skaters Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov’s gold medal winning performance at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Art and sport can both be seen as displays of virtuosic human skills; while sporting skill is measurable in distance, accuracy and speed, artistic skill is very difficult to quantify. Competitive figure skating sits on the boundary of artistic expression and sporting achievement. Performances are judged according to a complex set of guidelines with points deducted for errors that deviate from a set routine. The artistic components are not as easy to evaluate and yet form an integral part of the overall judgment and score for each display. The competitive nature of the sport necessitates measurable and quantifiable criteria for creative expression, which is problematic and vague. The removal of the performers from each frame of video aims to highlight the theatricality surrounding the performance. The music, commentators and audience reaction are foregrounded while the skaters themselves are reduced to ill-defined blobs, leaving only an impression of the complex dance between the two athletes. Is the audience enjoying an artistic display akin to ballet, or the honed skills of two athletes in peak physical condition?


Grant Stewart, Gold Medal Performance, 2014, digital video, audio, 5:32 min