I grew up playing table tennis in Sweden in the 70’s where most athletes were still semi professional and had part time jobs. At the time Sweden was the only country that could seriously challenge the Chinese dominance. Since the early 90's Sweden has regressed into mediocrity as potential young players have been lured to more financially lucrative sports like tennis, golf, or ice hockey.
The sport of table tennis demands incredible physical stamina, hand/eye coordination, and quick decision making. Ping pong, the leisure activity on the other hand, only requires a decent backhand, willingness to have a good time, and not minding being a dork. Table Tennis in the US has been more related to the leisure activity of Ping Pong and played in dorm rooms and garages all over the country.
However, Ping Pong’s position in the US has been elevated to the “in-thing” to do in New York while networking or meeting with friends over drinks. Part of that can be credited to trailblazers like Amsterdam Billiards and Bowlmore Lanes. They made pool and bowling hip and fun leisure activities in the 90’s thanks to upscale venues, combining drinks and play, and attracting beautiful people. The SPiN New York club carries on that tradition. Celebrities help, too, both Susan Sarandon and Edward Norton are players.
As a photographer I am as interested in the objects of ping pong; venues, playing surfaces, equipment, colors, space, design, and graphics, as much as the play itself. I plan to photograph people playing ping pong in board rooms, prisons, and anywhere else where people are just looking for a good time. The project will eventually wrap up in China where table tennis is the national sport, is played everywhere, and the leading players are rock stars.