The sport of curling has long been a national obsession in Canada. To Americans, however, the sport is often thought of nothing more than an Olympic version of shuffleboard on ice, played by grown men and women with brooms in their hands.
Canadian artist Jason Young wants to change that. On a recent evening on the rooftop of Manhattan’s swank SoHo House, Young and a small cast of performers hosted an overflow group of hipsters and the well-heeled to perform “2054,” a 30 minute performance art show inspired by curling. Young says the work was created more to promote global peace and harmony than Canada’s second favorite sport.
“Curling matches never create rivalry,” says Young. “Curling is the only sport where communication and collaboration alter the trajectory and is a sport that suggests that we are more likely to resolve our differences by focusing on the things we agree upon.”
The performance enlisted two teams of actors – representing “warm” and “cool” colors – preparing to take-on one another. Young and his teammates then throw glowing chrome sculptures down the surface of a 50 foot long customized light box. The “curling stone” sculptures leave comet-like trails of color down the length of an ice track, forming a what looks like a tapestry of bleeding colors. Sections of the resulting painting are chosen to create 10 individual “lightbox” paintings that are now for sale.
(CoolHunting.com has already produced a mini documentary of the actual performance.)
This isn’t the first time that Jason Young set out to challenge the norm. He’s well known in his native Canada for employing unconventional materials to create ambitious abstract works. His artwork is today part of major international collections including the Four Season’s Group, Hewlett Packard, Progressive Insurance, The Tuscan Museum of Art and the Kresqe Museum of Art.
As for curling’s popularity in the U.S., there are now 162 curling clubs in America, up from 148 in 2010, according to the U.S. Curling Association.
A big part of the sports appeal, especially in Canada, remains its strong local roots: the game is played informally by millions of Canadians of all ages, with thousands of five-player teams entering the regional, provincial and national tournaments.
“Curling is slow. It’s played on ice. There are no referees,” Paul Wiecek, the curling writer for the Winnipeg Free Press, once told an American reporter. “Everybody gets along. And at the end of the game, the winner buys the loser drinks,” he says. “How much more Canadian can you get?”