Art of Hockey: Transversal Knowledge Design Between Sport, Ethnography
and Art

The Art of hockey is an online exhibition of hockey memorabilia for an imagined team named Ukkonen. The objects on display are familiar and typical – trading cards, jerseys, patches – yet also speculative. They play with the memorabilia form to suggest both alternate pasts and possible futures. The objects are designed to invite visitors to reflect on the nature of hockey work in the Finnish national league and, by extension, the global hockey market. This includes the work of managers and coaches, of physiotherapists and administrators, and of fans and volunteers, all of whom are invested in their team every day of every season.

The exhibition is the product of a two-year collaboration between design, discourse, sports and anthropology as a multi-modal form of social analysis and knowledge design. Our aim was to find and develop an alternative way to tell about the key findings of a four-year ethnography research on professional hockey as work in Finland. In this knowledge design process, we draw on insights from design, Deleuzian insights of assemblage, and critical ethnography. With help of feedback from our key participant, we developed together each object in response to particular insights evolving from the ethnography of hockey as work. We also worked together with professional photographer, Pekka Rötkönen, who followed everyday hockey work in the fall 2018 and took nearly 3000 pictures of work behind the scenes. For more details on design process see the article “Ice Time” in the American Anthropologist.

The exhibition also asks the viewer to engage in their own analysis of hockey as work and of the forms of speculation entailed in making a winning team. In 2018, the objects were displayed in the Feel the Thunder installation at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland and at the Annual Meetings of the American Anthropological Association in San Jose, CA.

This ethnographic research on professional hockey is part of the Cold Rush research project, which examines language and identity in expanding Arctic economies, including winter sports (see Cold Rush website). The project is funded by the Academy of Finland. In addition, the knowledge design process has been financially been supported by the University of Jyväskylä Department of Language and Communication, ReClaS language profiling project, and the faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Sari Pietikäinen, University of Jyväskylä, Finland

Luke Cantarella, Pace University, USA

Christine Hegel, Western Connecticut State University, USA

Pekka Rötkönen, Jyväskylä, Finland