THE OTHER: COMPETITIVE CELEBRATION
ALIANN RUSHING ATTILIO / JESSICA LAMBERT
At entrance, the referee asks each audience member to select one small team towel. One stack of towels is labeled “6” in yellow and the other stack is labeled “19” in pink.
Enter referee, carrying a spiked dumbbell and a volleyball. He walks to the far end of the net, plants one foot on each side, and places the spiked dumbbell at his feet.
We enter from opposite sides of the performance area, wearing oversized jerseys. We begin stretching and lightly jogging on the side of the court bearing our identifying colored domes. Referee blows his whistle. We stop our stretching and proceed to the center of the net. Turning to face each other, we shake hands, and play rock-paper-scissors to determine who will toss first. Referee blows whistle and signals with flat hand toward the winning player and bounces them the ball. He blows the whistle again and gestures who will toss the ball and who is receiving. We squat low.
Volley begins with an underhand toss to the opposing side. Before returning, we chant “mine,” the only sound punctuating jarring silence. When the volley ends, referee blows the whistle and gestures to the winning side. Winning player gestures vulgarly, alluding to male genitalia, at the other player—crotch chop or hand job / ejaculation—retrieves the spiked dumbbell from the referee, jumps to the opposing side, and smashes one of the opposing player’s domes. Signifying the fragility of the dome, the shattering is loud, violent, and assertive. Our bodies in the act of crossing take up as much space as possible, while maintaining intense eye contact in a show of arbitrary disdain. We then return the dumbbell to the referee and continue with the game. The first player to have all of their domes destroyed is the losing player.
After smashing the final dome, the winning player gathers broken pieces from the most recently smashed dome, and walks back to the center of the net on her own side. Losing player reaches their hand out to shake. Winning player hits their hand aside and holds out broken pieces. Losing player takes broken pieces, a keepsake of their failure. We both exit the way we entered, the losing player exiting meekly. Referee blows the whistle, signaling the end of the performance. The viewer is encouraged to question the way commercial sports exploit the player’s body and perpetuate arbitrarily gendered expressions of competition.