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Pan Am pop up art asks: What is sport without the spectators?

Exhibit by June Pak examines at the commodification of sport, and turns the lens on the audience.

Exhibit by June Pak examines at the commodification of sport, and turns the lens on the audience

June Pak talks about her upcoming Pan Am Games Pop Up Art installation on Barton Street East in Hamilton. 1:17

What is sport without the spectators? It's a question that is central to the Pan Am Pop Up Art exhibition by June Pak, nestled into an empty storefront on Barton Street East, steps from soccer action in Hamilton's new stadium.

"It's not about making a political statement per se," Pak said of her installation at Barton and Lottridge Street, which will be on display July 10, "But I just want to create a moment for some discussions, kind of what are we doing here? How does that really benefit the city at the end?

"Looking at Barton Street as well we can see empty store fronts and so what is it that is going to be gained for those who live here… We don't think about the downside of these large kind of international matches."

Pak incorporates images she photographed of spectators of sport on a television with a continuous loop of sounds that aren't from sport, recordings from events in Toronto, Montreal, South Korea and Turkey, to name a few. The ground of the window display viewers can walk into will be covered in Astroturf, and a mechanical ball will move around the ground at random.

'Success in sports can only happen with the spectators'

"No players," Pak said, "I call this work, 'I Am Nothing Without You.'"

"It goes back to the importance of the audience…. Everything that you are looking at is all about spectatorship," Pak said. "So when they walk in I want to not necessarily shock them, but provide other ways to think about spectatorship and also how we commodify our culture. Sports is another type of culture. That success in sports can only happen with the spectators paying for whatever merchandise, the games, and all that kind of stuff."

With the display on the window of the pop up gallery at 749A Barton East, Pak says she used the space to add one more layer of spectators. The spectators of the Games are a stones throw away at the CIBC Hamilton Pan Am Soccer Stadium. 

Pak is, at the end of the day, a soccer fan herself. She defends the notion that this is not a protest against the games in the window displays made to cover up the empty storefronts along Barton, but as a way to start a conversation on the other side of major events, one she said is "hardly talked about."

The event opens on July 10, and runs throughout the Games, to July 26, from noon to 6 p.m., on Fridays Saturdays and Sundays.

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