Putting the Balls Away

Tara Mateik

2008 | 00:23:00 | United States | English | Color | Stereo | 4:3 | Video

Collection: Single Titles

Tags: Feminism, Gender, History, Humor, LGBTQ, Media Analysis, Performance, Transgender

Putting the Balls Away is a reenactment of the historic September 21, 1973, tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, created for broadcast on the 35th anniversary of the original event. The Battle of the Sexes was the most-watched live sporting event at that time, and pitted chauvinist against feminist, when women tennis players demanded equal pay to that of their male counterparts. Both players are performed by Mateik, whose work wages strategic operations to overthrow institutions of compulsory gender. After each game the competitors "switch sides". Excerpts from the sports commentators, Howard Cosell and Rosie Casals, exemplify the spirit of the match.

HC: There's the velocity that Billie Jean can put on the ball and walking back she's walking more like a male than a female.

RC: I just wonder whether Bobby would look better in a tennis dress... better than shorts maybe.

HC: Billie Jean of course won the first set, to the absolute delight of all the women in the arena. They actually stood and gave her an ovation and I suspect many in their living rooms did the same thing.

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