The European Fields project (subtitled: The Landscape of Lower League Football) is a collection of photographs and film material that pays much more attention to the space in which the matches take place than the majority of contemporary sports photographers do.

Since the mid-1990s, frequently awarded Dutch photographer and film maker Hans van der Meer photographs lower league amateur football matches in The Netherlands. He was looking for football in its original form, as it had started more than hundred years ago (and is still played by many people): twenty-two men and a ball, hardly any spectators, perhaps a horse in the next meadow. The photographs of football matches on pitches at feet of mountains, factories or churches, in suburbs or at seasides provide not only a remarkable background for the beautiful game but give an image far, far away from the Champions League and show how much football is part of the European landscape and culture.

The work is as much about landscape as it is about culture at large. Amateur football turns out to be the perfect metaphor for life in general. With a mild irony, Van der Meer shows us the mismatch between human ambition and the effective result, between an individual’s ‘inside’ perception and a more objective, distanced view of our behaviour. The dry, almost conceptual photographs are combined with his more narrative video works on football players familiar behavior on the field (gesturing, pretending to be injured, coaching, celebrating) – a concept to which the public very easily relates.

Partly acting on commissions by parties such as photofestival Rencontres d’Arles, the Museo Fotografia Contemporanea in Milan and the Dutch football magazine JOHAN, and for the rest self-assigned, Hans van der Meer has been covering most of Europe between 1997 and 2005. The results were published in European Fields for which Simon Kuper (writer of Why England Lose) and wrote an accompanying text and the European Fields exhibition premiered in 2006 at the Boijmans Van Beuningen Art Museum (Rotterdam, The Netherlands).

Authors

Hans van der Meer (b. 1955) studied photography at MTS in The Hague, followed by a residency at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. He is probably best known for his series on amateur football, Dutch Fields (1998) and European Fields (2006, published by Steidl/MACK). In 2009, Camera Austria hosted a retrospective of his work. Through photography, film and writing Van der Meer examines the world around him. For example, his images of amateur football are also an exploration of human nature within the landscape. In The Netherlands – Off the shelf (2012) he wryly observes the increasingly homogenous built environment of provincial Dutch towns. With his latest project, Time to Change Van der Meer shows us the remarkable world of dairy farming. Hans van der Meer is based in Amsterdam and teaches at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague.

website

Platforms

Hindeloopen, the Netherlands
Hindeloopen, the Netherlands
© Hans van der Meer
Nederzwalm, Belgium
Nederzwalm, Belgium
© Hans van der Meer
Celerina, Switzerland
Celerina, Switzerland
© Hans van der Meer
Mars Montredon, France
Mars Montredon, France
© Hans van der Meer
Mytholmroyd, England
Mytholmroyd, England
© Hans van der Meer
St. Chamas, France
St. Chamas, France
© Hans van der Meer
Valdealgorfa, Spain
Valdealgorfa, Spain
© Hans van der Meer
Krasné Údolí, Czech Republic
Krasné Údolí, Czech Republic
© Hans van der Meer
Dublin, Ireland
Dublin, Ireland
© Hans van der Meer
Bradford, England
Bradford, England
© Hans van der Meer
Perafita, Portugal
Perafita, Portugal
© Hans van der Meer

Exhibition

  • Photographs
    95 framed photos (24 portraits 35 x 50 cm, 9 landscapes 35 x 50 cm, 29 landscapes 47,5 x70 cm, 24 landscapes 67 x100 cm, 9 landscapes 95 x 140 cm)

    Videos
    3 – 5 videos (20-30 mins each) on DVD: Flemish Fields,Campo do Futebol, Foot en Provence, Calciatori della Domenica

Book

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