Presented as a dual channel half-hour video documentary of her 2013 project, Three Teams, Melbourne artist Gabrielle de Vietri captures an affectionate collaboration with a regional Victorian community in devising a three-team footy match, inducing footy-loving Horsham residents to question the principles of binary-driven competition. With its allegorical references to Australian two-party adversarial democracy, the project is cheekily transparent in asking local AFL fans to reimagine the rules and conventions of a sacred sporting tradition to accommodate an extra team per match.

The concept that emerges in Three Teams is “productive disruption.” Derived from pedagogical parlance, it situates knowledge transformation within certain types of activity: participant access to guided learning experiences; facilitator-participant partnership-led project development; and “thinking globally locally.”

In the video documenting the process of making the game, the club presidents express their initial reservations and quiet thrill at shepherding their members into the annals of sporting history—creating the world’s first three-sided footy game. Over six months, Vietri organises pop-up community BBQs for brainstorming sessions in the streets of Horsham, inviting local residents of all ages to pitch governance models for a three-sided game to a steering committee, using models to replicate the field (with its three sets of goalposts) and canvassing the practicalities of collaboration within competition, while remembering to sustain game flow and interest.

Echoes of Christopher Guest’s small-town mockumentary antics emerge in the second video as the game gets underway. Familiar rituals like the banner-run take place while commentary is provided by Richard Higgins (of The Listies) and footy scribe Tony Hardy, who channel Roy and HG, as the three clubs—Taylors Lake, Noradjuha-Quantong and Horsham RSL Diggers—navigate the ensuing chaos, punctuated with expressions of pride and confusion from the crowd—a heartwarming outcome for de Vietri, who clearly relishes her role as understated artistic trickster. Teik Kim Pok

Top image credit: From L-R: Nigel Kelly (Noradjuha-Quantongs), Jeames Offer (Taylor’s Lake), Nathan Hayden (Horsham RSL Diggers) prepare for Three Teams Football Match at Dock Lake Reserve, 2013, photo Thea Petrass, Wimmera Mail – Times