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In 51Sprints, the narrative of the development of the 100m sprint finals shows, in an extremely concentrated form, the broadening and deepening of these notions. Through social, political and economical struggles and shifts in perspective, humans of all possible genders, ethnicities, colours, nations and non-nations have found access to the Olympic sprint tracks.


Today, even the default standard of the Olympic human body-plan of two legs, two arms, two ears, two eyes finds itself is criticized as a hegemonic normative instrument that needs to be contested. The recent editions of the Paralympic Games enjoyed a sharp increase in media attention and a growing amount of voices argue for the merging of the Olympic and the Paralympic Games. This would further expand the Olympic standards of a universal human, not only by the inclusive acceptance of the possible absence of certain limbs, but also by virtue of accepting the presence of non-organic, technological components of the human body.

51 Sprints consists of two parts: a video documentary that narrates the expansion of the notion of the universal Olympic human through five parallel stories about gender, race, class, nation and body; and an interactive part: the Equaliser. Here the viewer is put in a speculative position, similar to the scientist or the designer. What if the historical, physical, biological, political and economical differences could be completely cancelled? How would we then value the Olympic performance? Implicitly the wider question lingers: if these differences could be cancelled, what then remains of what we for instance define as human nature or even as Evolution, if the possibility to deny or at least to overcome our biological limitations is presenting itself and the notion of the supernatural or postnatural has left the realm of science as fiction and has become all too human. Are we human in the sense that being human presupposes the acceptance of all that which is or makes us human or will our idea of being human become the result of the fleeting demands of the here and now, shaped by design?

51 Sprints is part of the research- and exhibition program of Het Nieuwe Instituut around the Olympic Games and newly developing bodies. 51 Sprints was exhibited during the Istanbul Design Biennial 2016 and attended by 120.000 visitors. The web documentary is developed by artist Yuri Veerman and design studio Random Studio in collaboration with Het Nieuwe Instituut.


Galata Greek Primary School,
Kemeraltı Cad. 49, Karaköy, Istanbul


free entrance