I start by carting out the plastic laundry basket full of trophies to my backyard. I have just washed them in the bathtub and they are still a little wet so the cheap gold painted plastic is going to glisten in the sun. I place them one by one on the white stone patio which I think is a perfect stage for them. I step back to admire them shine together in their group-ness. Suggesting mini Greco-Roman columns, they stand magnificently on their marble pedestals 5 inches apart, in staggered rows. The iridescent stars on the black, orange, red, and blue panels double up and bounce back at the sun. I tower over the cityscape, hands on my hips, squinting at the evenly spaced rows of tacky glittering buildings. (The two huge trophies that tower above the rest are from Sara. She won third place in the Little Miss Portugal pageant at The Portuguese Club and then two years later tried again and won first place. I remember being there for the first competition, I was fascinated by the pageant. I loved fashion and dressing up and I wanted to be Sara. The rest of the trophies are soccer tournament trophies won by me, my brother, Sara, and her brothers.) Arranging them in the formations of rows reminds me of staggering lines for center adagio in ballet class. Arranging them in semicircles and arcs in order of decreasing height reminds me of cheerleader routines and soccer team photos:
the tall girls standing in the back row, their hands drawn conservatively behind their backs, the shorter girls in the front row, kneeling, one hand cupping their front knee and the other hand hidden behind their back. Trying to smile but squinting straight into the sun in our matching outfits. Clad in our red checkered drawstring shorts, reversible mesh jerseys- one side white and the other blue, shiny silver and blue plastic shinguards with the black stretch, sweat-absorbing, Velcro ankle guard, white socks with the navy stripes, and black plush-leather logo’d cleats. Matching polyester, nylon, mesh, spandex, and velcro, sweat-absorbing American flags with ponytails running around.
Wet grass and mud caking our cleats, smelling of sweat and gatorade. Team spirit. Hands in, “1-2-3 Strikers!” Take positions. Offense. Defense. Midfield. Wings. Whistle blow. Go. Kick. Pass. Running hard. Struggle. Foul. Referee. Everybody take a knee. Coach runs onto the field and carries her off. Everyone claps. It’s a penalty. It’s a goal. Reset. Half-time oranges. Pep talk. Subs. It’s a throw-in. Game. After-game Little Bites. Everyone shakes hands. “Good game, good game, good game, good game, guh game, guh game, guh game, guh gay, guh gay, guh gay, guh gay, guh gay, guh gay….”
I needed to break out my trophies from the closet where they were collecting dust, losing their luster in their dormancy. I needed to not let them go to waste, to act out what they’re good for, the rightful display of a proud soccer mom. To showcase the dinky, non-biodegradable little objects celebrating athletic achievement and sportsmanship in all their glory. I’m soccer mom-ing my little girl self.
I’m tiny and I’m in the field, taking the outdoor space of the game, sometimes dancing the sidelines dance in the arena, cheering, waving, the celebratory movement of cheerleaders and spectators. Sometimes recalling the athleticism of the players. I’m huge and I’m skirting the edges of the green space, framing the stage, encircling my tiny doll-like lounging body with a crowd of relics. I’m wearing heels that click clack on the patio and sink into the grass. I’m wearing a jogging sweatsuit, full body Adidas with Nike sneakers, a clash of the two giant sports brands, oh my god betrayal, literal fashion betrayal…
a wrestling match breaks out between corporate giants Adidas and Nike…
Can I be the little girl soccer player and the snacks-providing soccer mom on the sidelines, at home displaying and admiring her kid’s trophies, at the same time? Can I be the cheerleader and the cheered? Traditional socially-constructed gender roles of sports are acted out by female cheerleaders cheering on strong male athletes. In this case men are the spectacle and women the spectators, becoming the spectacle during the half-time show. There is the player and the game as the main event. And the cheerleader, the spectator, the sidelines, the soccer mom admiring the trophies after the fact as the supporting event. The host of the TV game show Wheel of Fortune also plays the role of the supporter of the main event while simultaneously becoming another main event as she performs her task of revealing letter cubes in her floor-length gown. Taking the duality of gaze and performativity of sporting events and embodying it in a duet with myself, I am asking, how does this supporting event become the main event? When do the cheerleaders become the spectacle themselves? When do they steal the show? And, how can I slip in and out of these two roles, between the two versions of myself on screen?
Green Space (2) video conceived and performed by Angelina Hoffman, filmed by Tim Hoffman
Writing by Angelina Hoffman, with duel image editing by Justin Fossella
Memorabilia photo series conceived and performed by Angelina Hoffman, taken by Lisa Keim