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Interrupting the BroadcastPaul Pfeiffer

October 4, 2023

In 1999, amidst towering basketball players and a roaring crowd of fans at Madison Square Garden, artist Paul Pfeiffer first became interested in the spectacle of sporting events. Since then, Pfeiffer’s work in video, photography, sculpture, and installation has examined how sporting events are constructed to create specific responses in the audience. “My interest is in, not sports per se, but sports as one scene for the moving image and mass entertainment,” says the artist. “What I’m doing is moving a viewer’s attention around the stadium by presenting juxtapositions of images that are normally not in a broadcast of a game.” In 2016, Pfeiffer began teaching as a visiting artist at the University of Georgia (UGA), and after researching the institution he discovered that UGA had one of the top four collegiate football teams in the United States with an intense culture cultivated around their team, the Bulldogs. 

While attending a game amidst a crowd of 90,000 cheering fans, Pfeiffer’s attention was drawn to the stands where the UGA Redcoat Marching Band played, led by Dr. Brett Bawcum. After seeing the band, Pfeiffer “quickly became fascinated with exactly what they were doing in the context of the game,” and this fascination resulted in his 2022 exhibition at Paula Cooper Gallery, Red Green Blue. The title, Red Green Blue, breaks down the three component colors of a television broadcast, and similarly, the video and installation break down the component parts of the sports spectacle. Pfeiffer zeroes in on the individuals who choreograph the emotional rollercoaster of a football game, deciding what songs will boost audience morale, what advertisements will play best following a touchdown, or what musical dynamics will elicit the proper mood. “You’re seeing the machinery operate,” says the artist. “It spoke of a self-awareness of inciting emotion in this crowd. I began to think of it as the production of a mass ritual.” Through Red Green Blue, Pfeiffer calls viewers’ attention to the levels of planning that go into a cornerstone of culture in the United States, the football game, and allows for a deeper understanding. 

More information and credits


Director: Ian Forster. Executive Producer: Tina Kukielski. Extended Play Series Producer: Ian Forster. Editor: Riley Hooper. Camera: Gabriela Díaz Arp, Sebastián Lasaosa Rogers. Colorist: Max Blecker. Sound mix: Collin Blendell. Associate Producer: Andrea Chung. Assistant Curator: Jurrell Lewis. Assistant Editor: Michelle Hanks. Music: Epidemic Sound. Artwork Courtesy: Paul Pfeiffer, Paula Cooper Gallery. Special Thanks: Dr. Brett Bawcum, Mo Costello, Lamar Dodd School of Art, Performa 19 Biennial, Redcoat Marching Band, Kevin Reuning, University of Georgia Athletics. “Red Green Blue” crew: Mo Costello, David Glenn, Katie Gregg , Joe Lavine, Blair LeBlanc, Kia Pooler, Joshua Pruitt, Bryan Redding, Benjamin Roberds, Irina Rozovsky, Khadif “Kadeef” Sanders, Marion Velis, Emily Wang, Justin Zweifach.

Extended Play is presented by the Marina Kellen French Foundation, with support from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, the Art21 Contemporary Council, and individual contributors. Producers: Barbara & Andrew Gundlach.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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Paul Pfeiffer

Paul Pfeiffer’s groundbreaking work in video, sculpture, and photography uses recent computer technologies to dissect the role that mass media plays in shaping consciousness. In a series of video works focused on professional sports—including basketball, boxing, and hockey—Pfeiffer digitally removes the bodies of the players from the games, shifting the viewer’s focus to the spectators, sports equipment, or trophies won. Presented on small LCD screens and often looped, these intimate and idealized video works are meditations on faith, desire, and a contemporary culture obsessed with celebrity. Many of Pfeiffer’s works invite viewers to exercise their imaginations or project their own fears and obsessions onto the art object.

“My interest is in, not sports per se, but sports as one scene for the moving image and mass entertainment. What I’m doing is moving a viewer’s attention around the stadium by presenting juxtapositions of images that are normally not in a broadcast of a game.”

Paul Pfeiffer