Football Field

Artist: Maider López
Location: Sharjah Museum Square, Sharjah, UAE
Year of completion: 2007
Researcher: Giusy Checola

The8th Sharjah Biennial, directed by Jack Persekian andMichaela Crimmin, proposed to the artists to view "art as a way of creating a better understanding about our relationship with nature and the environment, whilst considering its social, political, and cultural dimensions in an interdisciplinary way."

In response, Spanish artist Maider López created a football field at the Sharjah Museum Square in order to suggest new uses for the square and a new structure for the urban space, in which street furniture interferes with the game.

She painted the lines of a soccer field red in a public square of Sharjah, adding goals on either end. Because pre-existing features such as benches and streetlamps were not altered, the square became a hybrid multi-purpose public space that accommodated different ways of experiencing the square and offered new uses and structures of urban spaces.

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Maider López initially brought her interventions to Sharjah as part of the experimental residency Lab Project in 2007. It was during this residency that she first transformed the public square in the Arts Area by introducing the gridlines of a football pitch.

Invited back for the Biennial, López recreated Football Field, this time including Fountain, a temporary public drinking fountain.

Maider López enjoys interrupting assumptions by creating interventions in public spaces, situations, and architecture, articulating the politics of everyday life. She activates diverse publics to create unusual, contrasting, and mostly impossible situations through which she develops strategies to research and test how and in which conditions individuals from diverse layers of society can come together to act together.

“In Football Field, staged at the Art Square in Sharjah, the perfect geometry of a soccer field was painted onto the pavement in red lines. The existing urban furniture—lampposts, benches, and so on—remained in the middle of the field, between the two goalposts, where they were sure to interfere with any play carried out on the field. By overlaying this recreational use onto the square’s multifunctional structure, López created new interactions in the form of coexistence. The sociologist and philosopher Henri Lefebvre remarked that social spaces cannot be conceived of and imposed by power; rather, they emerge when used by citizens and, above all, when physically and symbolically reinvented by them. Hence works of art can contribute to the aesthetic questioning of the urban landscape and the reinvention of the concept of citizenship.”

(Rosa Martínez, abstract from Collection of the Museum Guggenheim Bilbao. Guggenheim Bilbao, 2009.)

Site-specificity underpins all of Lopez’s work, with interventions ranging from the subversive tampering with a space to the complete overturning of its usual operability. These interventions temporarily change the meaning of the location, and as a consequence change the public’s relationship to it.

At Sharjah Museum Square the project suggests a model for easy and relaxed integration of different activities, based on human relations. It’s informed and activated by the inhabitants of the space and their experience since it attempts to rework the idea of the city through the practice of the people. It demonstrates the human capacity for transforming urban space and building up the city to suit their own use of the space.

All copyright belongs to Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts, Shanghai University.

Progress Agency