Show to reveal its ‘roughness’

"Masks on Ice" by Michael Conti.

“Masks on Ice” by Michael Conti.


Opening at the Anchorage Museum on Friday, February 5, 2016, “Stick and Puck” is a solo exhibition of work by artist Michael Conti. The exhibit will examine hockey from social, cultural and gender perspectives, including Derek Boogaard, who was one of the National Hockey League’s most feared enforcers, who died of an accidental overdose of alcohol and oxycodone in 2011. An autopsy revealed his brain to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy.  “Like the mythological Icarus, he had flown too close to the sun,” said artist Michael Conti.


The job of enforcer, an unofficial role in ice hockey, is to deter and respond to dirty or violent play by the opposition and to protect and avenge the smaller, more skilled players. “The life of an enforcer is one of broken hands, penalty minutes, missing teeth, black eyes, broken jaws and painkillers,” said Conti, a photographer and video artist based in Anchorage, Alaska.

“Hockey is the only sport where the game is stopped to let the players duke it out with bare knuckles,” said Conti. “I think there must be a primitive, cathartic human need for violence, as old as the need for art: To experience it and to watch it. This kind of activity takes its toll.”

Approaching the world of hockey not simply through the lens of a fan, but rather as a cultural observer, Conti sees many of society’s “norms” and expectations played out on rinks around the North and the U.S. He has created hockey pucks with teeth and Percocet inside them and carved hockey sticks from driftwood. A mask sculpture, instead of being an example of protection, is covered in stitches. A mixed media “penalty box” depicts brain injuries.

Portraits of female hockey players represent a counterpoint to the violent aspects of the game. “Photographs of young women in hockey look to the future of the sport, and images of the experienced female players are a nod to what has already been accomplished,” said Conti.

Conti (  has received numerous awards for his photography and his video work has been shown at the Nam June Paik Art Center in Seoul, South Korea, and at ContainR at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada.

The exhibition will remain on view through April 10, 2016.

Published by on February 2016. Filed under Alaska, Archives, At the Museums dept, News (Time related), Palette News Arts Network/PNAN, PaletteBoards Section. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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