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September 11, 2000 06:22am
Handbag-tossing? Nude Golf?
Source: Reuters
by: Andrew Browne

(SYDNEY, AU) -- To a long list of Australian sporting achievements add nude golf and handbag tossing.

Neither will feature at the Sydney Olympics but both are celebrated in a Sporting Life exhibition which takes an off-beat look at an Australian obsession.

As Australia prepared to host the greatest sporting spectacle on earth, Sydneysiders were urged to contribute to the exhibition their most treasured awards.

The result is a cluttered Trophy Room at the Museum of Contemporary Art that pays tribute to the Best Adult Couple at the Blue Suede Shoes Dance Studio and the Most Honest (and Shit) Umpire at the Petersham White Cockatoo Cricket Club.

In a nod to sporting swingers, there's nude golf.

But curiously, the Sydney Stripper of the Year trophy features a female statuette fully clothed and wearing a top hat.

A few of the more eccentric trophies are handed out by various gay and lesbian groups around Bondi Beach, among them a softball club called OUTfielder.

And the firefighters of Platoon ``C'' at the Sydney Fire Station have dreamed up trophies for just about everything. One salutes the Worst Driver of the Year, another the Joke of the Year, a third the Shonk of the Year.

A ``shonk'' is ``someone not being seen when work is being done.''

Apart from trophies, Sporting Life -- an official event at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Arts Festival -- showcases the work of contemporary Australian and international artists.

One presentation that attracts a permanent knot of museum-goers is a 28-minute video called Heaven, described as a ''candid and sexy look at Australian surf culture.'' Using a shaky, hand-held camera for voyeuristic effect, film-maker Tracey Moffatt has captured male surfers changing furtively into their wetsuits at beach car parks.

A series of stunning photographs of body-builders, transvestites and transsexuals by Dutch artist Anneke in't Veld updates the sexual themes of ancient Greece with a frank look at gender-bending.

Photographer Rosemary Laing has chosen the stripped-down interior of a cargo plane to show a red-haired woman abseiling.

And a video clip by Uri Tzaig depicts red-suited actors and actresses tossing a ball around a boxing ring, seemingly bound by no rules, in a piece that ``disrupts the codes and conventions associated with competitive sports.''

Appropriately at an Olympics where the hopes of many Australians are pinned on aboriginal sprinter Cathy Freeman the exhibition honors a host of indigenous Australian sporting figures in a photographic gallery.

Aboriginal boxers, rubgy players and golfers get star billing, along with tennis great Evonne Goolagong-Cawley.

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