An Awkward Game is a week long event on the intersection between table tennis and politics. Consisting of a series of public events and an installation on the political origins of the game. The origins of table tennis are aligned with geopolitics: British aristocrat Ivor Montagu set the rules of the game in the 30s, as he believed it could help spread Communism over the world. He became a Soviet spy, befriending Trotsky, Chaplin and producing Hitchcock’s early films. When Mao established the game as China’s national sport it became a vital cog in his foreign policy, reaching its peak with the reestablishment of US-China relations through the exchange of table tennis players in 1971. In this project, I parallel diplomacy to dialogics, a term coined by Bakhtin also in the 30s meant to note how readers become engaged in a story by nonlinear processes, and that is currently used in social sciences , stressing how dialogue itself enables the existence of ‘the other’.
More info: 1646
View of the installation before the first event, on 25th of June 2015. The two paddles for that day are already hanging in the main room.
SHAKEHANDS, workshop on diplomacy designed by Bob van den Bos, a former Dutch polititian and member of the European parliament and myself. The workshop was led by Maaike Okano Heijmans from the Clingendael
Institute, a center for diplomacy and international relations in The Hague.
The workshop was structured after a table tennis match, with the best of 5
games being the winner. The audience was divided in two opposed groups
competing against each other and acting as representatives of an imaginary
country, after the ‘carrot and the stick’ metaphor. The sections comprised questions of international politics and sportmanship, propaganda, and diplomatic performance.
PENHOLD, the second event comprising a demonstration by two professional players and a simultaneous lecture performance by myself, inspired by Xu Yinsheng’s pamphlet.
View of all the 14 paddles hanging on the front room.
KNOCK-OUT, the table tennis tournament held on a Sunday, including a DJ set and a BBQ. The event gathered all kinds of audiences and was supported by a local table tennis club, the TTV Pingwins.
The 1st and 2nd winners received the two paddles of that day as a trophy. One of the paddles had a golden coating and the other a silver one.
SPIN, battle of screens between the artists Gaby Felten and Moritz Geremus.
The tables, folded at 90 degrees served as projection screens for the battle. The two guests alternated to project videos from their own personal archives or the internet, commenting and responding to each other’s projections, around the subject of political correctness and spin (in diplomacy).
COUNTERHIT. Last event, publication launch. Limited edition of 50 copies.
Acknowledgments: Staff of 1646 (Clara, Johan, Floris, Nico and Dyveke), Edd Schouten, Márton Kabai, Ossie Almak, Bettine Vriesekoop, Bob van den Bos, Gaby Felten, Moritz Geremus, Antoni Hervàs, the colleagues at the KABK Wekplaatsen (Mascha and Yvo), Maaike Okano-Heijmans, Marcel Rajewicz, Gerard Ortín, Johan Govers and the TTV Pingwins, Liselotte Bredius, Michael van Leeuwen, Remco Jongejan, Umair Ilyas, and all of those who came and participated in the events.