View Two, Mathew Street (30th April – 3rd May 2009)
Being an avid follower of football I was intrigued by the
prospect of seeing a photography exhibition reputedly examining the current
face of the game and its relationship to the traditional fan.
What struck me most when I walked round the exhibition at
View 2 was not so much the nondescript nature of the photographs but the
statement pinned on the wall describing the work of the photographer concerned
- BBC journalist Stephanie Power - who stated that she became interested
in the politics of football in 2007. 2007!
Had she not noticed before that time the rampant commercialism
of football and the abject racism at games - which is still prevalent
in countries such as Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, France and Germany?
25% of professional footballers in England are black yet only 1% of football
fans describe themselves as 'non-white'.
Also not forgetting the sectarian hatred spewed out at 'Old
Firm' meetings in Glasgow between Celtic and Rangers; the increasing homophobia
directed at players by opposing fans; the match fixing - particularly
in Italy - and the tragic events which occurred at the Heysel Stadium
and Hillsborough...the list could go on.
In regard to the images by Powers, I failed to see the point
of most of them, or what new message - or any message - they were supposed
For instance she includes a photographs of a set of probably
overpriced scarves draped on a table in a Liverpool FC club shop ready
to be sold. Hmm? Supporters have a choice whether to buy football commodities
such as this and replica football shirts. They are not compelled to purchase
them. I make a similar point to her photograph of someone carrying two
LFC carrier bags with items from the club shop contained inside.
Powers also make the trite point of fans being priced out
of the game - I could not afford to watch Liverpool games twenty five
years ago! - with a photograph of part of a pub outside the Liverpool
ground, where supporters mass to watch the match on the telly. There is
a long waiting list for season tickets at Anfield, so it is irrelevant
to say that people cannot afford to buy one. Even if they had the cash
they would still not be able to watch league matches at Liverpool.
As a result of the recession Liverpool have frozen the prices
of season tickets for next season, and in fact will be cheaper than last
season because the reduction of VAT will be passed on to this cost.
Although this is an exhibition relating to Liverpool FC
- which has an illustrious history - it does not automatically mean that
the artwork contained within has any great significance.