Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Tim Laun

The artist loading footballs in Hangtime, 2005 at Socrates Sculpture Park

Over the past few years, Tim Laun has been making works specifically related to the Greenbay Packers and the career of their star quarterback Brett Favre. He uses his lifetime love of the team as a kind of armature to highlight what is a rarely explored, but reasonable connection between sport and art: temporal experience.

In Hangtime from 2005, he installed an automatic football-throwing machine at Socrates Sculpture Park. Set to simulate the long and high arc of a kick-off, the ball would be received in a designated area designed by Laun (one where dry grass was converted to a rectangular patch of a football field and another where he dug a shallow, square trench around the spot). People lined up to catch the balls in the transformed spaces while Laun loaded the machine and photographed the receivers at the moment they catch the ball.

Diagram of Hangtime, 2005

His long-standing project, called the FavreEra Cyclorama is designed as a monument to Favre’s unprecedented career. Laun proposes to present the entirety of Favre's career by replaying each game, complete with commercials, in a panorama of televisions.

Many of Laun’s other works have acted, at least tangentially, as theoretical supports for the cyclorama. Hangtime is unique in that it does not directly reference the Packers and it was a performed action, outside of the gallery setting. Here, a simple, universal gesture was stressed and the demonstration itself fostered a more practical understanding about how such personal reverence for football can emerge.

photo of a receiver from Hangtime, 2005

On the occasion of his show, "Tim Laun: Sunday, September 20th, 1992" at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, he discussed with curator Jane Simon, his work in relation to time and art history.

"I think a piece like Spiral Jetty by Robert Smithson is a useful example, in that the completion of that artwork was outside the artist’s control. After Smithson created Spiral Jetty it immediately began to erode and has mostly been preserved through documentation and cultural memory. The temporal nature of sporting events can be fleeting and seem meaningless, and also fade away. So, what I wanted to do is give form to something that was otherwise inherently ephemeral—the streak or arc of an athletic achievement."

His current show at Parker’s Box includes a major work called, “Don Majkowski (Sunday, September 20th, 1992), 2007 .” It is a large scale dot matrix rendering of the quarterback in his last game, injured and lying alone on the field. Favre subsequently filled in and had been their quarterback in every game since. This is the LAST weekend to check out the Parker's Box show- it closes March 3.


  1. professortomatoFebruary 28, 2008

    I like art that is so sure about liking things. I remember when hangtime was reviewed by the Times. It was a good article. I think there is a pitfall however when art becomes too closely aligned with its influence. After years of making paintings that perverted a type of old lady art that she was raised on, Lisa Yuskavage's last show was criticized as just being old lady art and not building upon it. Hangtime is a nice participatory ode to sport, but I hope the Green Bay show will not just be hero worship.

  2. professortomatoFebruary 28, 2008

    oh and where in the devil is the J.Justice interview?

  3. I think I know what you are getting at, though I don’t see the exact correlation between Yuskavage’s “old lady” and Laun’s favorite football team. Do you mean that it is possible to become subsumed by your own muse? I have to admit that I’m not exactly sure what exactly her muse is or how it has changed per se. (I didn’t hate her last show and thought they were a departure of sorts.)

    Anyway, like the Times article hints, I do think there is a healthy bit of self-awareness and objectivity that exists in Laun’s work, a kind of pseudo-impartial view. I mean, I'm not the most devoted follower of football and have gained an appreciation for Favre's career...but I do see how it could become dangerous territory.

    Sorry the J. Justice interview is running a little behind, but that’s why it’s The Old Gold I suppose…

  4. yeah, by the time you get jasmine's interview up, she'll have her first monograph out and no one will give a shit.

    just kidding!

  5. I mean, it will be worth the wait and your mind will be blown.

  6. professortomatoFebruary 28, 2008

    Favre is cool because he holds the nfl record for interceptions as well as td's. He was addicted to pain killers for a while and I think there are accounts of him puking on the sidelines. At one point when asked if he would help train a young QB that the Packers were grooming as his replacement, Favre said, "he can watch like everybody else."

    I don't really have a point. I guess what I'm asking is, is Laun more than just a doting fan with an art degree? If not, he is really no different than the type of people that do things like make scale models of Fenway Park in their basement.

    Whatever, I don't mean to nerd out. Its all cool.

  7. i like that his last name is laun, which gives a sense of authenticity. if it was "astroturf" i'd never take this stuff seriously, know what i mean?

    it's also a great way to alienate those pesky female viewers.

  8. Yes indeed. I actually dated a girl Debbie Astroturf in college. Let's just say I dodged a bullet there.

  9. i feel bad for debbie... she probably got a lot of "does the carpet match the drapes".... especially on st. patrick's day.

  10. She was a wonderful person.