Hans van der Meer – European Fields. The Landscape of Lower League Football
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 (*1955) 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 endeavor 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. 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 Bas Vroege. A collaboration with Paradox, Edam.