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The Nations Finest

Keith Piper
1990
7 mins

The Nations Finest

This short video explores, through a collage of images, text and voice over, some of the issues raised when Black athletes are called upon to 'represent' what have been historically seen as 'White' nations, within the international sporting arena. Produced initially for Manchester Olympic Video Festival, the piece juxtaposes nationalistic heraldry and the heroic imagery found in public monumental sculpture, with the bodies of two young Black athletes. Through referencing historical legacies of the disenfranchisement and exclusion faced by Black people, the piece goes on to examine how the transition of the Black athlete from the periphery to the centre of the nations psyche, carries with it a network of contradictions and limitations. The final frame of the piece is the victory salute by Ben Johnson at the end of the men's 100 metre final in Seoul, the rest is history.

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