PROJECT | What counts as #OlympicArt during the Rio 2016 Olympics?

I am in Rio throughout the Olympic Games, as I have done since 1999 across eight Olympic cities (nine if I include the memories of my hometown, Barcelona in 1992). I’ll be documenting and reporting on the Olympic cultural programme or Cultural Olympiad.

Highlights so far:

  • The first IOC funded Artist in Residence programme, featuring French graffiti artist JR as well as German writer Tilman Spengler and American viner artist Gerald Andal
  • Passaporte Cultural, offering opportunities to follow city-wide art circuits []
  • Live Sites area [Olympic Boulevard], the largest to date, including the new Museum of Tomorrow and a record breaking mural by Brazilian artist, Eduardo Kobra
  • Aspirational linkages with artists from the next summer host, Tokyo 2020, through the work of sculptor Mariko Mori and her ‘sixth Olympic ring’
  • Continuation of the artist-led Olympic Poster tradition, resulting in 13 posters by 13 Brazilian contemporary artists

Challenges so far:

  • The lack of unified branding and denominations for Olympic related cultural programming, which usually makes much of this activity invisible to Olympic fans.
  • The hashtag #olympicArt has been suggested as a means to tag activity but, so far, the take up is slow and of mixed relevance.
  • In the meantime, the ‘official’ umbrella for all Rio 2016 cultural activity (the ‘Celebra’ programme) is underused and has no findable webpage in the official Olympic Games website (*)

I will be observing how the programme evolves and how its narrative progresses, both through official and unofficial (online, user-led) channels. This will work will help inform my research on the cultural dimensions of the Games and the role played by art and artists in shaping Olympic narratives and broadening up Games-time voices from a local, national and international identity point of view.


(*) Celebra had a dedicated page, but this page was not accessible / made available within the official Olympic Games website at the opening of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.