Looking for Eric (2009) is a film that struck me as a type of narrative that may be relevant to my project. Within the film Loach explores the idea of male identity crisis. Eric, a postman from Manchester is a character struggling with the burden of debt and a single parent. His idle “Eric Cantona’ then emerges as an imaginary friend who begins to mentor him in his darkest moments. Through Cantona, Eric is able to address his problems in addition to realising his worth through a sense of community.
The journey of the film may be representative of a narrative similar to my own project. I have recently been exploring the work of Alec Soth, specifically the project Niagara. The work of Soth doesn’t really follow the mainstream narrative in the same way that ‘Looking for Eric’ does however i feel there are relevant comparisons in the representation of identity and the philosophical issues that many face. In the case of Niagara, it is the idea of flawed love in a place that sells happiness as opposed to Looking for Eric that explores male identity crisis through football and community.
Going forward, the love letters in the work of Soth in some cases juxtapose the representations within the photographs also providing a voice to the work which is powerful and angry. Going forward, i will begin to identify objects which potentially provide a voice to my own work. I need seek personal voices of a personal nature which humanise the hyperrealities that I create. Adding personalities and emotions which may serve to add an extra dimension to the work that I create. This may come from cultivating relationships with people to get to honest stories to move audiences further.
At the start of the MA I made the decision to create an Instagram account to document my progress and engage with potential audiences. At this stage the account has a clear identity and has been extremely useful in developing an understanding of my audience. As a result I see the potential of my work being disseminated in specific football magazines such as ‘When Saturday Comes’ and ‘Mundial’ who publish their work as both a physical magazine in addition to an online offering. Furthermore, I cultivated an awareness of the ‘zine’. At present my understanding is that a zine is something between a magazine and a fanzine. I was fascinated by this term and further research revealed a number of publications across Europe, some of which were engaging with my content via the mechanism of ‘likes’. Although I am suspicious of the nature of this, I was heartened by the idea that these people are aware of my work and have decided to follow my progress. I currently see this as an opportunity to potentially make connections with a broader community and eventually lead to my work being exhibited in such publications.
In an alternative respect, the platform also provides the opportunity to engage with individuals outside the professional context which is pleasing as this audience is possibly not likely to attend a gallery. In the medium term as my understanding of a potential audience for an exhibition I will focus my attention into motivating them to come and see my work in a physical sense.
When Saturday Comes
The Culture Division
Art of Football
Where is Football
Soccer Girls Problems Podcast
As stated in the earlier post, in acting on the response to the feedback I received I enlisted the help of my family in order to curate our own football museum. We collected as many objects as we could find and the children arranged the objects in that garden. Although a light hearted and fun activity for all to do whilst on lockdown. This was extremely useful and is surmised by Fraser when he refers to being confronted by a ‘physical expression of his unconscious mind’. Most of the objects seen in the gallery can be seen within our home and it was useful to be confronted by these objects outside their usually invisible home. Going forward, some of these objects have new homes, some back in their old home. The next useful task will be a metaphorical game of hide and seek to identify these objects again.
The mock presentation proved a difficult but useful task in that I felt that I had worked very hard and very fast throughout the weeks whilst considering some challenging philosophical debates. Therefore, the task was really a case of categorising my thoughts and ideas whilst demonstrating what I have learned about myself as a photographer. In terms of the feedback that I received, I felt that it was useful with the most pertinent observations surrounding the engagement with other photographers. I found this useful and served to confirm the impact of insecurities I have regarding the considering of my peers work with sophistication. I understand that I may be overcritical of myself and i am currently unsure whether this is due to a lack of ability or a lack of confidence.
When looking back at the unit as a whole i feel that I have developed my academic thinking and critical analysis significantly skills significantly. As I have learned about myself, I understand that I need time to reflect on new ideas and really think about them before I respond in both an intrinsic and an extrinsic manner. Hence the reason this reflection is over a week after I attended the webinar where I discussed my work.
In terms of the written feedback I received on the forum, It was suggested that my work was about identity which I whole heartedly agree however, this challenged me to consider further how I would take my project beyond identities. At the time of composing my presentation I was reading and making links between my work and poetry. This took a significant amount of interpretation and I am in the process of composing my portfolio as poem.
I received further feedback that had some similarities with the feedback I received from the conclusion of the positions and practice unit which referred to the development and direction of my project. it was suggested that I engage with making photographs of object in further depth as a particular image was discussed and highlighted a number of times between the written and oral feedback. This observation was also given more relevance due to the impending isolation period we were due to encounter.
Upon considering the feedback I had received in addition to Peter Fraser video, I begun to think about how I could respond whilst thinking about how I would disseminate my work. Fraser makes reference to the importance of ‘small thinks’ and their importance to what we see in the world around us. This was extremely relevant to my project at this stage therefore I decided to enlist the help of my step children. I asked them to gather as many objects as they could about their football life as they could and curate their own exhibition in the back garden. This provided a plethora of objects which I could photograph. What started as a small idea by the end had turned into a rather large task ultimately costing me £10. However It was a very useful exercise in identifying the large numbers of objects I was past everyday.
The process and identification of these objects within a different context was immensely helpful in enabling me to consider a different approach to the act of looking and the act of seeing.
It is my intent to create a body of work which makes a statement about a football and culture we do not see within the mass media where we are actively sold objects and lifestyles ready to consume in order to present our future selves to the world as successful. My work will illustrate ‘the experience’ of the game in different places encompassing the key themes of people, places and objects.
To date, I have produced a portfolio that encompasses people who are emotionally invested in the game taking a sense of identity from it, while others impose their ideologies to produce an evolving message of ‘football culture’. Objects and environments that hint at a participatory culture and create a sense of identity, they are well used but in some cases unloved and invisible. Raising questions about the stories that may precede them. Such an approach represented by Borge (2012) who argues.
“Maybe activist photography begins at the point that a photographer thinks beyond the photograph, or when the photograph is not the end, rather a means to a solution even if the solution is nebulous.”
Although the contextual framing of Borge is relevant. This project is not an attack on the high profile game. It is a poetic response of tradition and shifting ideologies of the place community football has in the 21st century.
At the early stages of this project the expectation was the discovery of traditional football clubs with local spectators and volunteers, in some cases this was accurate however I discovered a progressive football club with a non partisan ethos and chant about not eating meat. The club was a meeting place for like minded people determined to do something different. At present, the photographs that have been made allude to a ‘nebulous solution’ with inclusion, tolerance and community via the spectacle of a football match being the messages beyond the photographs.
Borge, M (2012)Photography as Activism,Images for Social Change.London, Focal Press.
Upon reflecting on the feedback I received on the draft presentation I produced, the following themes were raised:
With regards to the idea of my project being about identity, I agree that this theme is encompassed within the work. At this stage my understanding about identity is that of the objects and things we possess which create a meaning. I have argued in the earlier stages of the development of this project that I expect it to have ideological elements moving towards activism against mass consumerism of football. However my expectation is that such ideas may represent an assumption to be made in a summative assessment. This feedback may be relevant in contextualising the position my project and understanding where the idea of identity fits within the broader message of photography as a form of activism. Further consideration will be needed to understand to what extent ‘identity’ works as a vehicle for meaning to the hypothesised message.
Culture and social rituals often with low expectations.
With reference to the the idea of a ‘culture’ and ‘social rituals’, I have identified some interesting rituals whilst engaging with this project most notably the idea of ground hoppers in addition to the celebration of non partisan culture when I visited AFC West Didsbury and Chorlton. Upon reflecting on these ideas I have come to the conclusion that what I am essentially doing with this project is ‘Ground Hopping’. This is very interesting as when talking with or about ground hoppers it is easy to make stereotypical judgements about the typical identity of ground hoppers. Interesting fact about myself, I am a ground hopper.
The ideological element of this theme may be the idea of ‘low expectations’, further reflection/research may be needed here into exploring the reason people attend football matches at this level. Based on the assumption of low expectations, one may be led to considering and exploring the motivations of consumption if the motivation isn’t to see their team win. For teams who don’t often win, why do spectators continue to attend?
Experiment with different styles
Interesting observation regarding experimentation with different styles, since stating the informing contexts module I decided to encompass portraits within my work, at present, I have experimented with the idea of the deadpan face, environmental portraits and portraits within the home. An image that has been pointed out on more than one occasion is a close up photograph of a pair of goalkeeper gloves (Figure 1). This image has raised questions with a range of peers and may represent a possible route forward. Goalkeeper gloves are not used by the whole team and the role of the goalkeeper is very different to the rest of the team, it is a lonely job, using their hands and the only person who isn’t required to chase the ball, they wait until the ball comes to them. If they make a mistake, it usually ends with the team conceding a goal, perhaps the most responsible job.
The interest here may be to explore the role of the goalkeeper in further depth.
Things people miss about the game?
I felt this was a very interesting question, especially in the present climate as the country is on lockdown as a result of COVID-10. However, this prompted me to further consideration. In response, I asked one of my peers on the course who is from Scotland but now lives in the USA what she misses about home. She responded:
‘I miss proper haggis, the coast and family. Not the weather though!‘
(De Ferrier) Falmouth Student: MA Photography.
It may be considered that these elements may be associated with history, tradition and nostalga.
In thinking about this question further decided to ask the some question on the Stockport County facebook page…
When Saturday Comes is a bi monthly, independent football magazine which explores a wide range of football related themes. Having recently subscribed to the magazine and to date have received three issues. The content is usually interesting and is comprised of nostalgic articles which explore the romance of various elements of football culture. Experiences of childhood collectables, profiles of fan owned football clubs in addition to a front page which usually encompass composited images of famous football players with satirical captions which comment on the wider issues within the game.
Each issue contains a photo feature a different non league football ground on a match day. The perspective of the photographs is usually of that of a spectator at a particular game. The format is usually in the form of a double page spread with photographs separated by white borders.
These such feature articles may represent an opportunity to attain some exposure for my project. Using the online gallery platform ‘Shootproof’ I will set up a gallery with a range of folders encompassing some of my own images which I will send and continue to send in the hope of persuading the photo editor to use them.
Publications such as WSC may offer a good opportunity to disseminate my work in order to raise some awareness of my project. Having watched the lecture with Krishna Sheth recently I will use the approach advocated by her in sending an email to introduce myself along with some content. I will select 5-6 photos to accompany an email which are prepared print and ready to be used with minimal fuss.