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Only a Game?

Marcus Coates » Ravi Deepres » Julian Germain » Julie Henry »

Exhibition: 1 May – 3 Jul 2004

Impressions Gallery

Centenary Square
BD1 1SD Bradford



Curated by Anne McNeill, Director, and inspired by her life long passion with football, this exhibition explores notions of cultural identity and nationalism. 'Only a Game?' pays homage to fans and football's working class heritage and is underpinned with a healthy sense of impudence that has invaded the modern game.     Marcus Coates' powerful and compelling Out of Season (2000) video takes a football supporter out of his usual habitat and places him in the incongruous environment of a forest glade. Chanting football tribal songs to the counterpoint of bird song, he acts out the explicit language and gestures of the terraces, mirroring voices that resonate round stadiums up and down the country every Saturday afternoon. Patriots by Ravi Deepres is a hypnotic installation that focuses on Japanese crowd of fans walking towards the camera. Covered in sponsorship logos, carrying cameras, and wearing (mostly English) football shirts the footage is slowed down to give the impression of a herd of animals. Deepres' images document the tribal iconography of football culture and explore group dynamics and identities amongst supporters. For Going Down (2000), Julie Henry spent nine months at Crystal Palace during their last season in the Premiership. Her striking photographs show the full range of emotions (hope, euphoria, loss and eventual 'death') the fans experienced during the club's dismal season. Presented as a kind of hymn, with accompanying song sheets, this work presents the extreme actions and reactions of supporters in a quasi-religious fashion. Social and cultural aspects of football are recurring themes for Julian Germain. Presented as 'trophies' in a cabinet, Superheroes Eleven (1999) is a touching and humorous story of one boy's obsession to turn a standard team into a team of invincible heroes. Originally commissioned as a series of advertisements for a sportswear manufacturer, The Portraits (1998) is a series of colour photographs imagining how famous footballers (such as Ryan Giggs and Peter Schmeichel) might have pursued alternative careers. This strong body of work forces us to ask questions about national stereotypes. Invited by the curator to send photographs of their mascots, football clubs at every level responded with great enthusiasm. Meet the Mascots turns the gallery space into a photographic shrine to these unsung idols and serves as a timely reminder, after all what would the game be without ordinary people with extraordinary passions?