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Soccer And Art Come Together at the PAMM In Time For The World Cup

The 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia kicks off next week. To honor the occasion, the The Perez Art Museum unveils an ongoing exhibit to unite Miamians with a special connection to soccer. It’s called The World’s Game: Fútbol and Contemporary Art.

The exhibit mixes the love for the game and art by looking at the way the two intersect. It showcases 50 soccer-related artworks from 30 artists all over the world, including videos, photographs, paintings and sculptures. There will even be a wall dedicated to Brazil's soccer icon Pelé, featuring a piece by Andy Warhol, and a portrait of Cameroonian player Samuel Eto’o by President Obama’s portrait artist, Kehinde Wiley.

Franklin Sirmans is the director of The Perez Art Museum and a huge soccer fan. He joined Sundial to talk about the exhibit.

WLRN: The exhibit celebrates soccer around the world as we get ready for the World Cup. And it's also tackling a lot of social, political and religious issues. What are some of the conversations that you're hoping people have when they walk through the exhibit?

Sirmans: I think first and foremost what we strive to do with every exhibition is put together a place where people feel like they can come and talk and see things differently. Artists allow us to see things that other people just don't see. 

[A piece] by Stephen Dean ... [is] called "Volta" and it recreates the moments fans might experience at a soccer game. You hear the sound of drums and chants from thousands of soccer fans in the stadium. Tell us about this piece and why it's such the perfect setup as you enter into the rest of the exhibit. 

Yeah, so you hear the samba. You're being placed into the crowd of a stadium. And so what we do now is we don't show you any people, we don't show you the the pitch, we don't show you the ball. This is about you. This is about the fan. You are placed directly into an installation atmosphere -- a "Bandera" covering you, a huge flag covering you -- as you walk into this installation, similar in fashion to the huge "Banderas" that are used in the stadium literally covering hundreds of people all at the same time holding this fabric together at the same time. When do we ever get to see that? When do we get to see so many people actually working together in such a fashion? So I think it's a piece that is about the optimistic hope that these moments always provide us with. Every four years we all are allowed to dream again.

There is something unique about soccer stadiums and how the fans sing and chant compared to a lot of other sporting events. You have a piece from a Brazilian artist who explored soccer teams ... that carried the names of indigenous tribes, their mascots. And these tribes, what's unique about them is that they're nearly extinct because of colonization. How does this piece explore the complexities of the sport?

Yeah you're referring to a wonderful work by the artist Paolo Nusrat, young Brazilian artist. It's a piece that has a series of prints that show you images of what appear to be logos or signs and symbols of actual teams. But what he's doing is he's showing you the element of a native culture ... that as you said has been moving towards extinction. And yet these images or these names are still being used as symbols, or as commodities, of something commercial.

So it's a way of focusing us and looking at: well how do we cover up our histories? How do we change our histories? And potentially not looking at them with the same reverence that we might when we think about it in a different context.