Sports/No Sports, Or Rather: We Just Couldn’t Decide

People whose interest in art extends to an interest in fashion might be entertaining the thought of visiting Hamburg’s Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe (MKG) to see their exhibition “Sports/No Sports”, Germany’s first exhibition on the interplay of sports and fashion. The MKG presents a collection that shows the development of sports attire, the adoption of sport-inspired clothing into fashion circles, and how avant-garde fashion has turned its back on practicality and functionality. The collection was created with the support of the Karin Stilke foundation.

This is not their first collaboration; just barely two years ago the Karin Stilke foundation and the Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU) helped to put on the exhibition “Fast Fashion,” which raised awareness of the fashion world’s underbelly, focusing especially on environmentalism and exploitation. In comparison, “Sports/No Sports” is a lot less didactic and and concerned with focusing on current global issues and more about presenting pretty things.

The gym-turned-exhibition-floor holds 150 different articles of clothing, though they seem far less numerous than that . A walk through the single room where they are presented takes maybe15 minutes at best. While most of the outfits on display might be fun to look at and their purposes fun to guess, the lack of interconnectedness nonetheless makes the exhibition boring and unimaginative. Of course, it is interesting to see how gymnasts’ outfits and swimwear has changed in time. And fascinating to learn that people used to compete in various sports while wearing corsets. But, as a whole, the exhibition can’t seem to decide on what it’s trying to convey. It doesn’t when 150 individual pieces seem to be telling 150 different stories, creating one big incoherent mess. Looking for a deeper collective meaning is pointless, and you’ll end up finding underlying intentions that aren’t there.

A bright side to the collection might be the production and the design of the exhibits itself – if it weren’t for the fact that the collection is one big mix-and-match of second-hand pieces from different past exhibitions and actual brand clothes loaned from designers and artists (the centrepiece is a sparkling Tom Ford dress that looks like a football jersey; Belgian artist Paul Schietekat loaned the MKG bright red high-heeled flippers).

Regardless of meaning and message, some of the outfits are actually fun to look at for the sake of entertainment alone. The exhibition features a wannabe futuristic red dress consisting of various long woollen tubes that seems like it would make for a fun Halloween costume if you’re looking to dress up as a human brain. In the centre of the room you can find a mannequin dressed in a cloud-patterned suit suspended from the ceiling. This looks pretty cool. But I can’t see what’s so sporty about it.

If you are willing to spend 12€ (8€ if you’re a student) to look at funny outfits no one will ever wear as well as historical sports attire and a revealing modern bikini then you’re welcome to do that as the exhibition is open until August 20 2017.

For everyone else – the ticket also allows you to explore the exhibition “Game Masters” as well as all the permanent collections of the MKG.


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