"By the numbers

On December 13, 2012, a soccer ball arrived at my studio from the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey. Days before I had been invited to participate in an extension of the exhibition of that moment. An extensive curation of pieces from all media and formats around football entitled “Fútbol. Art and passion ”. This extension brought together several local authors and was based on the use of this ball as a material and conceptual detonator. The results of each invited artist were presented in the Museum Lobby during February 2013.

The invitation was received with great enthusiasm. It was an interesting provocation, in addition to the opportunity to participate in a project of the mythical museum of the city. The creative process, as it usually happens to me, brought me closer to the numerical part. That plethora of statistics, ephemeris and historical accounts that makes football analysis sound more like a science than a sport. The resolution of the piece finally fell on the following: 1) Using that immaculate ball in an official soccer match, 2) Video recording the game, 3) Recording in post-production the binary sequence of the times that both teams touched the ball, and 4) Laser cut the ball in as many parts as touches would have been made and present those pieces divided into those corresponding to each team.

I don't remember how I got in touch with Jorge Martínez, who coordinated the San Nicolás Soccer League at that time. I raised the project with him by phone and email. I was feeling a bit clumsy in how to validate the need for a game, regardless of teams but in a structured league, to be played with a specific ball that seemed unremarkable. Their kindness and availability were of great help and relief for the lack of practice in this type of inter-union management. He assigned me to a match between Forza Italia and Pingüinos that would take place on some fields in Lomas de Anáhuac on the morning of January 27, 2013.

That day I arrived moderately early and showed up with the referees. They already knew about me, but had no further information about the experiment. As I explained the project to them, we discovered that the ball had been in the box for so long that it didn't have enough air. Nobody there had a pump to inflate it. The small tension that there was because of the fragile and confusing favor that they were doing to a stranger increased dramatically in that moment. I got in my car and went in search of a hardware store. There was VERY little time left to start the game and the experiment would not work if the ball was not used from start to finish. The hardware store didn't appear very far. I bought an air pump and came back ipso facto. Referees, players, coaches and parents were waiting to start the game, the last three without understanding much why. One of the referees inflated the ball and started the game. The narrative of the encounter had two layers. On the one hand, that of the match itself and the result within the tournament. On the other, that of the ball as a double agent. As is usually the case, there are several replacement balls available in games, so if one goes far away or comes out on the opposite side of the court, one simply takes another. The players constantly had this drive for hands off and goal kicks. I am very grateful to the referees, who on each and every one of those occasions, despite the notorious discontent and confusion of the players, ordered that "The ball" be recovered in order to continue with the game. That implied more laps, time, effort by the referees to reaffirm the instruction and always the risk that it would not be followed. Perhaps the most dramatic moment from the point of view of the double agent, was a ball, around the second half, that went flying and that hit EXACTLY on the edge of the wall that separated the court from a neighbor's house. As if it were a scene from Match Point, the ball bounced vertically, waiting until the last moment to announce which way it would fall. Due to the fact that the piece could be finished and exhibited, we know from which side it was done. The game ended without major turbulence. The ball was touched 932 times by the players and 11 by the referees. Forza Italia won with 2 goals against zero from Pingüinos. "

Ernest walker

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