Hazel Meyer’s personal relationship to sports influences her understanding of her art practice. In her installation, performance and text-based works Meyer queers our assumptions about gender and bodies—especially those usually tied to sports. Craft and repetition inform many of her projects: when she uses knotting techniques learned from a Newfoundland fisherman to make basketball nets; or when she makes gifs and zines in which slight variations on the same words and images bring about new meanings. For Unnecessary Roughness – an audio-intestinal sports opera (2001), Meyer exploded guts onto a recreated football field, introducing non-normative ways of thinking about the body in a sports context. In the many iterations of Walls to the Ball (2012) she juxtaposed textiles and basketball to offer a different approach to the tropes traditionally ascribed to each discipline. She was then inspired by the energy and interactivity of music concerts to shift her practice so as to engage in a dialogue with the folks who came to see her work. Spectators were invited to become a part of her installations and have a hand in challenging the exclusivity of art spaces. Most recently with Muscle Panic (2014–ongoing), which she discusses in this video, Meyer seems to have found a form that allows for maximum inclusion of both performers and spectators by making space for transformative embodiment through movement.
“For a long time I would always point to sports and movement and stamina and the abject and the queer body within sports, but it never really worked so well,” Meyer says. It was only in the last four years working on Muscle Panic that it’s made a lot more sense for her: “[Because] I’m performing with four or five other folks and we’re sweating together and we’re moving together, and we’re not just pointing to these things—we’re actually being these things.”
In this studio video, Meyer talks about how all these elements and concerns manifest in Muscle Panic and her Nuit Blanche 2017 project Where Once Stood a Bandstand for Cruising & Shelter in Toronto’s Queen’s Park.