Aleksandra Mir

ARTINFO UK's 5 Top Olympic-themed Exhibitions

By ArtInfo, London, July 2012

Triumph London
27 July - 14 September 2012
part of Pursuit of Perfection: The Politics of Sport
South London Gallery, London

London 2012 is upon us! Athletes, officials, journalists, and visitors of all stripes are landing in the British capital in their hundreds of thousands, ahead of Friday's opening ceremony masterminded by Danny Boyle. To get into the spirit, ARTINFO UK has cherry-picked the best Olympic-themed exhibitions opening this week.

1. Pursuit of Perfection: the Politics of Sport

Unlike so many self-congratulatory shows about the Olympics, the South London Gallery's "Pursuit of Perfection" is full to the brim with irony. Highlights of the exhibition — which is the first time in the institution's history to span not only the main gallery but also the recently vacated Southwark Town Hall and sites in three local council estates — include Aleksandra Mir's heaps of trophies Triumph (2009), Michael Auder's video collage of footage filmed from the TV as he was watching the 1984 LA Olympics, and Ariel Orozco's photo of a dog made up as a football.

"Pursuit of Perfection: The Politics of Sport," July 27 – September 14, 2012, South London Gallery, London

2. The World in London

Londoners sometimes feel that the Olympics are not really for them. The city is putting on its Sunday best for international visitors, but most inhabitants are ticketless and struggling with an overcrowded public transport system. With "The World in London," The Photographers' Gallery celebrates the people living in the city that welcomes the Games. It commissioned 204 portraits of 204 Londoners, each coming from a country taking part in the London 2012. The billboard-sized posters will be exhibited both next to the Olympic venues in Victoria Park, and on the façade of a new development in Central London.

"The World in London," A Photographers' Gallery commission, Victoria Park: July 27 – August 12 2012, July 27 – August 30, 2012 Park House. Victoria Park, E3; 453 - 497 Oxford Street, London, W1

3. The Olympic Journey, The Story of the Games

The Royal Opera House, Lausanne's Olympic Museum, and BP have teamed up for a two-week exhibition narrating the story of the Games from the ancient Greeks to contemporary athletes. Expect sporting knick-knacks, audio material and film footage, as well as medals and torches by the bucket load.

"The Olympic Journey, the Story of the Games," July 28 – August 12, 2012, Royal Opera House, London

4. Olympex 2012: Collecting the Olympic Games

In collaboration with the International Olympic Committee, the British Library is exhibiting its own take on the history of the modern Olympic movement, focusing on postage stamps. With more than 2,500 stamps, the show maps the changing iconography of the Olympic Games, and the way it has permeated everyday consciousness.

"Olympex 2012: Collecting the Olympic Games," July 25th – September 9th, 2012, The British Library, London

5. Victory!

Asian specialist Rossi & Rossi takes an unusual approach to the Games. It has dedicated its summer show to the concept of victory explored through a collection of ancient and contemporary artworks, from a 13th century Tibetan "phurba" (ritual dagger) to a group of new commissions by five contemporary Tibetan artists. Gathering pieces by the likes of Jaishri Abichandani, Faiza Butt, Tenzing Rigdol, and Leang Seckon, "Victory!" is an original investigation of the universal drive to win.

"Victory!" July 26 – September 7, 2012, Rossi & Rossi, London