After the Finish Line
After the Finish Line is a recent film by Adelita Husni-Bey produced for the exhibition Movement Break at Kadist-SF in 2015. It was developed in collaboration with a group of teenage athletes who have experienced injury as a result of their respective sporting activities. Through radical pedagogical practice, a process that attempts to de-individualize feelings of failure, the artist and the athletes recorded their experiences, discussing the meaning and trappings of competition — and in particular, from where desires for success stem. The film alternates between two distinct styles: one associated to sport-branded slick advertisements, and the other one to an experimental documentary approach. Linking these approaches together is the running conversation between Adelita Husni-Bey and the teenagers where they analyze the effect of pain, their consequent failure as athletes, and what it means for them to compete. The artist pictures the athletes as perfect machines whose gestures are full of tension for the imminent performance, whose eyes are sharp and focused. Then, she exposes how the teenagers — after experiencing a body defeat — experience a psychological breakdown. The film’s subject of sport operates as a larger metaphor for the endless performance of life. Being an athlete is like being the perfect human being, and particularly in the American milieu, where the athletic ideal is an image deeply interconnected to success.