THIS GAME WE PLAY
Like New York City’s famous street grid, a basketball court is a Euclidean place, an island of fixed geometry. Lines repeat; different colors fill in identical tattoos. Le Corbusier said that New York was “a monument to the desire to escape it”, but for those who can’t, there’s a pickup game on the corner. Empty, particularly empty, as Franck Bobhot’s photos show them, we see them as they catch the imagination of the boy walking past. The city that surrounds him encroaches on his court too. Mute, but adamant, it refuses to assent. In these photos slight shifts in background signal subtle differences in context: swings, handball courts, housing projects, highways, fences, forests, and decaying cinder blocks. All forms of leisure real or imagined, urban planning has gone awry, and even a few enigmatic murals. Tawdry or touching they are there all the same. These courts are inextricable from their city. People have left traces too. A sticker, a graffiti tag, or simply a worn down backboard, testifying to a million bank shots. No image is more striking than that of a solitary chair left by a hoop, a leftover staircase to the Air Jordan dream of a child’s dunk. It’s not easy to get up and dunk. Unlike almost anything else in sports, an adversary is an immovable object. Just you and the hoop in unqualified combat. In Franck Bohbot’s pictures, it is the dreams of the court that come into focus rather than
the players. We see the space for what it really is: a social ligament—a stage where the people who live in New York come together, dream, play, and keep score. 
Text by Jesse McCarthy and Gabriel Arce-Rollins

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