A sculpture exhibition by Black Artist Esmaa Mohamoud originally scheduled to open in Hamilton in March of this year was postponed just days after its initial launch date because of Covid restrictions. The show did reopen earlier this month just as it was originally scheduled to to close.
Good news though for art lovers desperate to see this wildly popular 30-year-old artist’s unique sports influenced sculpture show, the Art Gallery of Hamilton (AGH) just announced that the Esmaa Mohamoud: To Play in the Face of Certain Defeat show has been extended until October 24, 2021. There is no charge to see the exhibition for the next 10-days - AGH has waved its entrance fee to the gallery for the month of August.
"This exhibition will be temporarily closed on August 19 and the 20th so we can adjust the installation," said Shelley Falconer, the gallery's CEO. "But don't worry it reopens this Saturday(August 21st)."
In this topsy-turvy ever-changing world of Covid lock-downs, Yes, We Have No Tickets, a sculpture exhibition by young African-Canadian artist Esmaa Mohamoud was set to run from March 20th to August 15th.. It had to close 9-days after the launch date because of the province wide shutdown of galleries and museums in Ontario.
Her Play in the Face of Certain Defeat re-examines understandings of contemporary Blackness. She draws on the modern industry of professional sports, which she equates with a covert form of neo-slavery.
The 30-year-old London, Ontario-born artist(now based in Toronto) transforms athletic equipment and symbols to illustrate pervasive, discriminatory behaviours and attitudes based on race, class, gender, and sexuality.
She examines collective and individual struggle, “focusing on the homogenization of bodies within high-level athletics, and the enforced play out of competitive violence between Black subjects”, explains the gallery. “Through sculpture, photography, video, and installation, she investigates how high-level athletics operate as sites of corporate profit and discrimination.”
Esmaa Mohamoud, One of the Boys (White), 2019, colour photograph on paper, 60 x 40 in. Courtesy of Georgia Scherman Projects. © Esmaa Mohamoud
The dozen artworks in this exhibition consider a variety of concerns. Mohamoud’s appropriation of basketball jerseys within Victorian-era ballgowns, for example, complicates the sport’s fraught relationship with queer, gender-fluid, and female identities. Reconstructed football equipment, including branded black leather footballs and African wax-printed helmets, celebrate cultural plurality through their exuberant, diverse designs, while also protesting the staged enactment of Black violence for entertainment.
Esmaa Mohamoud, Heavy Heavy Hoop Dreams, 2016-19, 60 concrete basketballs, black Plexiglas, 10 x 10 ft. Courtesy of Georgia Scherman Projects. © Esmaa Mohamoud.
At the Box Office
The downtown AGH is currently open to the public Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The gallery has free admission throughout August. Before visiting check the gallery’s website for its currently operating hours. Website: Plan Your Visit - Art Gallery of Hamilton or phone the gallery at (905) 527-6610
Esmaa Mohamoud, Glorious Bones, 2018-19, 46 repurposed football helmets, African wax prints, faux soil, metal. Courtesy of Georgia Scherman Projects. © Esmaa Mohamoud.
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