Unfolding over a period of one month, and running parallel to the World Cup, A Tournament of the Unknown aims to overcome binary thinking and rigid social values, through a series of games, ceremonies, workshops and classes. Set in a unique scenography and spatial architecture, the tournament brings together groups across the social spectrum (children and teenagers; local businesses and organisations; cultural workers and art institutions) to play Gabriel’s specially designed games. In addition, W139 will also screen World Cup matches, to watch together, further expanding on the project’s concept by allowing for reflection and discussion to unfold around the impact of sport in society.
Sports games not only reflect society but also play an important role in constructing identity and defining how we learn, embody and reproduce social norms and values. However, these values contribute to the production of social hierarchies and forms of exclusion related to gender, sexism, racism and ableism. In doing so, they confirm concepts such as binary oppositions, competitiveness, and hyper-masculinity.
By developing an alternative sports tournament at W139, Gabriel will draw away from binary thinking by introducing new value systems that are geared towards togetherness, deep listening, and inclusivity by constructing games through alternative tools, rules, uniforms and sport fields. Here, players will not necessarily know which team they belong to and are invited to change teams during the games through transformable sport kits. Gabriel believes that it’s in this situation of not-knowing and of feeling a bit lost that new relations, connections and thoughts emerge. In doing so, this alternative playing field is used as a ground to develop new game systems around the notion of fluid identities. By allowing people to perform multiple identities, the games open up spaces for experimentation, play and collective reflection that challenge fixed categories.
In short, ‘The Tournament of the Unknown’ serves as a framework through which we think, act, and engage amongst each other, inviting us to re-imagine alternative modes of being together in society.