ZURICH.- Fotomuseum Winterthur presents European Fields - The Landscape of Lower League Football - Hans van der Meer, on view through August 24, 2008. A pitch, two goals, 22 players, open meadows or rough ground, with only a handful of spectators: for more than ten years, Dutch photographer Hans van der Meer visited the playing fields of Europe, photographing football in its most elementary form as it is played weekend upon weekend in the lower league clubs of the villages and suburbs, occupying the minds and the feet of the players and their wives for more than a hundred years. These subtle images of men pursuing an activity as absurd as it is poetic shows that human endeavour in all its futility has a name: football. The tragicomedy of the protagonists on the pitch contrasts starkly with the landscapes and sprawling settlements in the background, against which the archaic passion of the game seems all the more potent.
The photographs and videos by Hans van der Meer (*1955) are sociological portraits of a fascination that captivates, shapes and inspires men (predominantly) from childhood onwards.
At the same time, his photographs are landscapes that document different aspects of life, work and play from city suburbs to remote villages and show the rough and filigree textures by which they are interwoven in the urban and rural context.
Ultimately, these images of lower league football are like cameos of normal life, fired with genuine, idealistic enthusiasm for the importance of the small-scale, the local and the regional. At the same time, there is a touch of irony in the way the high ambitions and grand gestures are so often at odds with the actual results. These photographs are diametrically opposed to the highly paid, style-conscious world of football that is marketed worldwide on television. As an exhibition on the theme of football and passion, this is a wonderful and often witty complement to the big business of Euro 08. The exhibition was curated by Paradox, Edam.
An accompanying book has been published by SteidlMACK: European Fields The Landscape of Lower League Football. Hans van der Meer, with 83 colour illustrations, 184 pages, format 29,5 x 21 cm, softcover. Price: CHF 39.-
Biography: Hans van der Meer, born in 1955 in Leimuiden/NL, lives in Amsterdam. 1973-1976 MTS voor Fotografie, The Hague; 1983-1986 Rijksacademie voor Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam. Various solo and group exhibitions in Europe and Asia include, in 2006: Timezone8 Gallery, Beijing, China; Museo di Fotografia Contemporanea, Milan, Italy; Fotografie Forum International, Frankfurt, Germany; Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; in 2005: National Museum for Photography, Film and Television, Bradford, England; 2004: Centro Português de Fotografia, Porto, Portugal; since 1999 he starts using video next to photography.