"Panem et Circenses," Installation view
Courtesy of Rob Tufnell

Rank 2: “Panem et Circenses”
at Rob Tufnell, London

August 8 2012
7:23 AM

As Olympic mania crescendos in London, sport-themed summer exhibitions are legion. Featuring historical and contemporary works by a disparate group of artists, “Panem Et Circenses” (Bread and Games) offers a timely riposte to the games motto, “Inspiring a generation.” Guy Debord’s film Society of the Spectacle (1967) sets the tone for “Panem Et Circenses,” an exhibition of works that explore strategies of negation.

Elsewhere, Michel Auder’s The Games: Olympic Variations (1984) appropriates TV footage of Olympic athletes, but changes the way it is edited together in order to create elliptical sequence that challenges the way we read the images. Oliver Laric’s KopienKritik (2011) a resin cast of Hercules’s head riffs on the Roman tradition of remaking Greek sculpture. Both artists’ transgression of copyright law are a pertinent response to the corporate lockdown of the London Olympics. To accompany the exhibition, Tufnell has republished Paul Lafargue’s The Right to be Lazy. Originally published in 1883 the essay advocates a resistance to the “dogma of overwork.” A timely reminder that to stop competing can sometimes be the only radical gesture left. The athletic body offers an obedient repository for late capitalism, in  contrast with the myriad disobedient bodies currently striking, rioting and occupying spaces in cities the world over. (George Vasey)