July 22, 2014 - Cabinet - “Hitting Walls: A Day of Handball”
July 22, 2014

“Hitting Walls: A Day of Handball”

Photo: Carlin Wing.

“Hitting Walls: A Day of Handball”
Sunday, 27 July 2014, 2–8pm

300 Nevins St

Thomas Greene Handball Courts
Nevins Street and Degraw Street


Organized by Carlin Wing, in conjunction with Cabinet

New York City’s public parks are home to the largest collection of one-wall handball courts in the world, and it should come as no surprise given that the game originated in Brooklyn. In the 19th century, many ball-wall games, such as squash, made their way to the US from England and Ireland, joining the long history of rubber-ball sports in the Americas. All these ball-wall games, including early versions of handball, required three or four walls, but in 1909, an Irish-American immigrant named Charles J. O’Connell encouraged the owner of a club at Brighton Beach in south Brooklyn to formalize a one-wall handball game that local bathers had started playing against the jetties. The beach club’s new one-wall courts proved to be highly popular and other clubs in the area soon followed suit. It was not long before the newly founded Amateur Athletic Union began holding tournaments in the city, and in the 1930s, New York’s Parks Department decided to build thousands of courts as part of a Works Progress Administration initiative. Cheaper to build than multiple-wall courts, easier to play on, and more accommodating of spectators, one-wall handball courts continue to provide a free and democratic venue for summer sports in the city.

“Hitting Walls,” organized by artist Carlin Wing, is an event that takes New York’s quintessential game as the starting point for a day of learning, making, playing, spectating, and speculating. The full-day program, which will take place at both Cabinet and Thomas Greene Handball Courts, will include:

–An exhibition of handball photographs by Keith Thode and Holly Koffler, alongside historical images of the game from the archives of the NYC Parks Department. An artist project by Max Warsh will be on view along the route between the tournament courts and Cabinet.

The Gowanus Open, an amateur handball tournament that will take place at the Thomas Greene Handball Courts. The tournament will be followed by an exhibition match between two of New York City’s top players.

–A ball-making workshop, in which participants will learn how to make balls according to pre-industrial methods, utilizing old sheets, liquid latex, vinegar, medical tape, punctured bicycle inner tubes, packing materials, rubber bands, wine corks, bits of string, and other unlikely stuff. Materials will be provided, but participants are also welcome to bring old t-shirts, rubber doodads, yarn, and socks missing their mates.

–A talk by Carlin Wing on the history of handball in New York City.

For full schedule of events and to sign up for the tournament, visit www.cabinetmagazine.org.

About “Hitting Walls”
This event is the 27th installment of “Hitting Walls,” an iterative project started by Wing in 2008 that consists of works made in a variety of media and forms—large-format photographs, appropriated internet material, experimental videos, sound sculptures, installations, performances, participatory events, and written texts. All of the works engage ball-wall sports, tracing new arcs through their long, globalized histories and advocating embodied, material ways of describing the world through bounce, rebound, and ricochet.

About Cabinet
Featuring exhibitions of both contemporary art and historical materials, as well as a diverse range of talks, screenings, and performances, Cabinet magazine’s event space in Gowanus, Brooklyn, was inaugurated in the fall of 2008 to further extend the publication’s engagement with art and culture. For further information, contact Cabinet at press [​at​] cabinetmagazine.org.

Cabinet is published by Immaterial Incorporated, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Cabinet  receives generous support from the Lambent Foundation, the Orphiflamme Foundation, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, the Andy Warhol Foundation, the Katchadourian Family Foundation, and many individuals.


“Hitting Walls: A Day of Handball” at Cabinet, Brooklyn
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