Turning Towards Fluidity: A Tournament of the Unknown

From 18 November until 18 December 2022, Gabriel Fontana’s Turning Towards Fluidity: A Tournament of the Unknown will take place at W139. Unfolding over a period of one month, and running parallel to the World Cup, A Tournament of the Unknown aims to overcome binary thinking and rigid social values, through a series of games, ceremonies, workshops and classes. By understanding the body as a learning tool, Gabriel’s research investigates how our bodies perform, internalize and reproduce social norms.

Various groups, ranging from local schools to art organizations will be invited to participate in the organized games held at W139. In addition, W139 will also screen World Cup matches, to watch together, further expanding on the project’s concept by allowing for reflection and discussion to unfold around the impact of sport in society.

Sport operates as a cultural object, a system of representation that reflects ideologies and unwritten rules of a wider socio-political context. Yet sports games not only reflect society but also play an important role in constructing identity and defining how we learn, embody and reproduce social norms and values. However, these values contribute to the production of social hierarchies and forms of exclusion related to gender, sexism, racism and ableism. In doing so, they confirm concepts such as binary oppositions, competitiveness, and hyper-masculinity.

By using performative and participatory methodologies, Gabriel positions design as a social practice. By developing an alternative sports tournament at W139, Gabriel will draw away from binary thinking by introducing new value systems that are geared towards togetherness, deep listening, and inclusivity by constructing games through alternative tools, rules, uniforms and sport fields. Here, players will not necessarily know which team they belong to and are invited to change teams during the games through transformable sport kits. In doing so, this alternative playing field is used as a ground to develop new game systems around the notion of fluid identities. By allowing people to perform multiple identities, the games open up spaces for experimentation, play and collective reflection that challenge fixed categories. Furthermore, by making listening rather than speaking, crucial in engaging with each other in the games, the games create new forms of self-awareness, empathy and connection and so deconstruct rigid binary structures that result in merely ‘winning’ or ‘losing’. Here rather, the aim is to achieve the notion of collaboration and togetherness.

In short, ‘The Tournament of the Unknown’ will serve as a framework through which we think, act, and engage amongst each other, inviting us to re-imagine alternative modes of being together in society.