World Cup Art Keeps Coming: ‘Christ the Redeemer’ Ad and Vik Muniz Documentary

Vik Muniz, This Is Not a Ball (2014), promotional image. Photo: via Facebook.
Vik Muniz, This Is Not a Ball (2014), promotional image. Photo: via Facebook.

It seems like the art world just can’t get enough of soccer in the lead up to the World Cup. The latest news? A controversial Italian ad mocking the Brazilian team and iconic religious statue Christ the Redeemer, and soccer-themed documentary, This Is Not a Ball, from Brazilian artist Vik Muniz.

As reported by the Brampton Guardian, This Is Not a Ball chronicles Muniz’s attempts to integrate a soccer ball into his studio practice, traveling to nine countries in as many months, examining the history of the ball and its societal influence around the world.

This Is Not a Ball began with Muniz’s plan to document a project that would arrange 10,000 soccer balls into a recognizable image on the field of Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium and photograph the resulting picture from above. In the past, the artist has “drawn” similar works, using sugar in a portrait of sugarcane workers, chocolate syrup in a picture of Jackson Pollock, and spaghetti and tomato sauce in a copy of Caravaggio’s Medusa.

The film both captures the technical difficulties of the work (manufacturing special soccer balls that are half black and half white, to represent positive and negative space in the “drawing”) and Muniz’s struggle to find an appropriate subject for the final image that wouldn’t seem too corporate. He explores the sport’s roots in the Mexican ball courts, its global popularity today, and unrest in soccer-crazed Brazil, which held protests during a World Cup test event last year.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Italy has added fuel to the fire of its already heated soccer rivalry with Brazil thanks to a new ad, reports Complex. The Italian television spot co-opts Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro’s 130-foot-tall religious monument, by making the Brazilian icon don an Italian soccer jersey. The ad also features incendiary phrases such as “Power is nothing without control” and “Brazil awaits us.”

Film still from the ad. Via the <em>Telegraph</em>.

Film still from the ad. Via the Telegraph.

The Catholic Church in Brazil is understandably displeased, and is considering suing. “It’s as if Brazilian TV were to make a commercial in which mulatto girls engaged in lewd behavior with the gladiators of the Colosseum,” a church lawyer told the Telegraph, in a rather graphic, racist metaphor that seems to overstate the offense.

As for our earlier soccer-related coverage, artnet News has already reported on the Brazilian soccer team’s street art-covered jetanti-FiFA Brazilian murals protesting the sporting event, and the growing number of Premier League art collectors, as well as providing a round up of historical soccer art.

Clearly, the art world has World Cup fever, but for those of you who still can’t get enough soccer art, artnet News points out the work of Nicolas de Staël, who has an extensive series of paintings called “Les Grands Footballeurs.” Check it out:

Nicolas de Staël, part of the "Les Grands Footballeurs" series.

Nicolas de Staël, part of the “Les Grands Footballeurs” series.

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