Contextual Research | Project Development

At this stage of my football themed project I am used to feeling at odds with the concerns I had when embarking on the MA. Mainly due to lockdown and the impact of COVID, the disruption has been enormous in terms of exploring the theme non league football as the whole game grind to a holt. 

I have struggled to identify a unifying theme which unites mt project as to date I have covered a plethora of football related culture from visualising the game at grassroots level, exploring the motivations of non league spectators and back to football in the sphere of the home. Finally, moving away from the sport to examine my own grief about the loss of my father in 2015 which is where much of my involvement in the game stems from. 

At present, the task going into this module is to understand how I can use the work I have produced in order to plot my route forward and generate a new set of objectives based on what I have previously explored. Therefore my future direction must be representative of my initial motivations whilst continuing to shift and evolve, Read (2017) supports this approach when citing Clarke states  ‘Looking back at the concerns that form the backbone of the work and the interests which fuel it, with or without input from others, will serve to provide evidence of where they have been and point the direction for the future.’ Read’s comments encapsulate the context of the decisions I am currently facing perfectly whilst offering some comfort that a cohesive, powerful project is still attainable. 

In terms of a rethink, my starting point is Germain (1994) and his book Soccer in Wonderland. I have been aware of this book for some time and used it in my contextual research previously. The back of the book this time being my starting point so that i could fully understand his intentions with this work and states: 

In Soccer Wonderland, a fan’s vision of football. This is a book about football’s winners and losers,heroes and legends, the trophies and the terraces. It is about the heroes and dreams of the supporters, the memories, mub and miseries, the fantasy and the glory, the rain and relegation, In Soccer Wonderland shows how football exists in the hearts and minds of the fans.

Deconstructing the blurb on the back of the book this first line offers the major interest, particularly the phrase ‘a fans vision of football’ which at present sounds amazingly simple as throughout the MA I have probably been over enthusiastic in theorising the intent of my project. In response, I will spend the coming days thinking about my project, specifically what the blurb on the back of my own book will say. This will form the basis of my project in addition to a contextual road map which encapsulates what it is I am trying to achieve in addition to serving as an overarching question to ask myself when creating work.

Socially Engaged Approach 

Upon further research of Soccer in Wonderland, figure1 appears to be illustrative of a socially engaged approach by encompassing a simple question ‘The worst thing about football is?’  Followed by a collection of short qualitative responses. This may have been collected by a questionnaire or focus group and offers an interesting dimension to the book, this approach may also may be applied to my own project. Collecting responses by participants, possibly asking open questions using social media or  a workshop which could provide a deeper engagement with the project. Adding a socially engaged element is an approach that really appeals to me, having previously researched Emma Case and her project ‘Red’ which is a useful example encompassing the objective of creating an archive, although that would be far too extensive for my own project. Helguera (2011) cites Emilia ‘to participate is not to create homogeneity; to participate is to generate vitality’. In encompassing a collection of quotes/thoughts of others I suspect would yield some interesting results and add a nostalgic dimension to the project whilst taking the work away from my own person vision but at the same time provide anchorage to my work. When observing the pages in figure 1 my personal engagement is positive and enables the audience to identify with the work on a universal level. Inroads will be made into this approach and I will look to exploit further.

Going forward I will experiment and develop ideas relating to an achievable dimension of a socially engaged nature. 

Figure 1 | Germain, J (1994) Soccer in Wonderland P62-63

Germain, J (1994) Soccer in Wonderland Booth-Clibborn Editions, London.

Helguera, P (2011) Education for Socially Engaged Art, A Materials and Techniques Handbook. Jorge Pinto Books, Mexico City.

Read and Simmons (2017)  Photographers and Research, The Role of Research in Contemporary Photographic Practice. Taylor and Francis, New York.

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