Coinciding with the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Art Of Football is a celebration of the creative culture and social fabric which underpins the beautiful game. A festival of the culture surrounding football, to coincide with the greatest football festival in the world.
From the ritualistic experience of fandom to the tapestries and soundtracks of the terraces, each facet of the modern human condition can be explored through the prism of the globe’s most beloved sport.
Art Of Football is commissioned by Culture Liverpool and curated by Bido Lito! Magazine in collaboration with Foto Octo and Laces Out!.
Whether it be artistic expression, women’s rights, disruptive politics, people power or populism, football has become an ever more powerful platform and a ‘proxy-theatre’ in which many of the key debates of our times are played out.
The Art Of Football will present a series of projects that distil these ideas and debates. Running for the duration of the World Cup, three large-scale exhibitions will explore these themes via photography, illustration and design, and the art of the football shirt.
Tom Wood, Ken Grant, Tabitha Jussa
Curated by Foto Octo
Albert Dock Colonnades / 14th June – 15th July 2018 / Free
Opening times: Tuesday through to Sunday, 10 – 5pm
Captured by three photographers across different decades, the exhibition will offer a unique insight into how the locale has evolved alongside the might of the now multimillion pound football industry and serve as a springboard to discussions about a wider fan culture that encompasses music, fashion and politics.
This exhibition seeks to explore the ritualistic behaviour of football fan culture and its development from the game of the working class in the 1980s to the riches of the Premier League today.
Football is a global passion that connects people from all walks of life. It is a common thread that can be an important ritual spanning across cultures, religion, gender and race. Football is synonymous with Merseyside; it is one of the most profitable cultural attractions that Liverpool has to offer, with a worldwide fan base that make regular pilgrimages to Anfield and Goodison Park.
FOOTBALL SHIRT EXHIBITION
Camp and Furnace / 14th June – 28th June 2018 / Free
Opening times: From one hour before kick-off on all World Cup match days.
The show will be housed within a dedicated pop-up gallery space at Baltic Triangle venue, Camp and Furnace, which will also be showing all games during this summer’s World Cup. The show will be open from one hour before kick-off on all match days, from 14th June to 28th June.
Curated by fashion historian Neal Heard, The Art Of The Football Shirt explores the relationship between football and popular culture. Showcasing a curated selection of over 100 sartorially sound, obscure and vintage football shirts, it will show how team kits of previous generations have gained iconic status and how they have crossed paths with the worlds of music, fashion and politics. In the exhibition, Heard shares his vast knowledge, passion and enthusiasm to tell a story that goes beyond the realms of the beautiful game.
GRAPHIC DESIGN AND ILLUSTRATION EXHIBITION
Produced by LJMU School Of Art And Design
Camp and Furnace / 29th June – 15th July 2018 / Free
Opening times: From one hour before kick-off on all World Cup match days.
Confirmed artists include world renowned designer and typographer Jonathan Barnbrook (David Bowie’s Blackstar and Damien Hirst publication I Want To Spend The Rest Of My Life…), Brendan Dawes (digital artist and designer who has work in the permanent collection at MoMA, NY), Craig Oldham (In Loving Memory Of Work) and Kat Gibb (long time Chemical Brothers collaborator).
I Don’t Love Soccer Because Soccer Has Never Loved Me takes a critical look at “the beautiful game” through the lens of graphic design and illustration. The exhibition presents artwork from an international selection of graphic artists made in response to an essay titled The World Cup And Its Pomps written in 1978 by the famous Italian semiotician, intellectual and writer, Umberto Eco. Published in his collection of essays Travels In Hyperreality (1986), Eco links football “with the absence of purpose and the vanity of all things” questioning the corrosive banality of its punditry, its inherent prejudice and exclusivity and its (a)political morality. The essay concludes with Eco asking rhetorically: “Is the armed struggle possible on World Cup Sunday… Is revolution possible on a football Sunday?”
Featuring guests from across the world of football, media and academia and hosted across two evenings at Liverpool’s Central Library, Soccerama is a symposium to explore football through a new lens. Via a series of conversations and debates, Soccerama will unpick football’s interwoven relationship with the key global debates of our times.
Join us to explore some of the fundamental questions facing football today; How healthy and sustainable is football’s newfound wealth? What is its long-term impact on the game? Has the sport become divorced from its original social fabric? What role can fans play in shaping the game’s future? What can we learn from history when exploring the manner in which states look to utilise football as a tool of nationalism?
Thursday 12th July (7pm) – FOOTBALL: THE NOT-SO BEAUTIFUL GAME
Football has changed almost unrecognisably in recent times with unimaginable riches concentrated within the upper echelons of the sport. The impact of this on the relationship between clubs and their traditional, working class supporter base has been huge. English football has been exposed to forces of global capital in a unique way and, at the same time, states around the world seek to utilise the sport both at home and abroad as a vital platform through which to shape their own national personas.
Friday 13th July (7pm) – FROM OUTSIDE THE BOX
Whether it be within attitudes or action around race, gender, sexuality – or any other notion of ‘difference’ – Football has a chequered history and often uncomfortable present. The forward strides around racism in the UK are still often found wanting and attitudes in other parts of Europe show the distance yet to travel. The #MeToo movement has shone a light on the huge gender imbalance within the sport and the systemic challenges facing female fans and players alike. And the fact that football is unable to foster an environment in which it is possible to both play the game professionally and be open about one’s sexuality is a damming verdict on the culture within the sport we all love.
Yet despite these challenges, football presents a unique opportunity to engage and galvanise people, bring about real social change and challenge societal prejudices head on. From running food banks to tackling homelessness, fan groups and some clubs alike provide huge support to their local communities, acting as a true power for social change.
Constellations / 30th June / Tickets (£10) available here.
Opening time: 1pm
Alongside acclaimed DJ Andy Votel, who will be unleashing the contents of his globe-spanning record bag, performers include Wayne Snow (Nigeria), Oko Embombo (France), Rozzma (Egypt) and Gomnam (Iran) – see below for more details on each of the performers.
In honour of the ultimate anti-footballer, socio-political activist and godfather of football cool, Disco Socrates is an exploration of music culture and its social and political impact around the globe. Anchored around a one-day festival, Disco Socrates will see live performances from artists drawn from the participating World Cup nations, reflecting the power of musical movements to affect change around the globe. The festival will also feature DJ sets from some of today’s finest selectors taking us through the 32 nations’ sonic histories.
A Nigeria-born, Berlin-based vocalist and songwriter who issued his debut LP ‘Freedom TV’ last year; a project marinated in Afro Caribbean, soulful jazz grooves and topped by Snow’s effortless falsetto acrobatics.
As the title suggests, ‘Freedom TV’ is an album with themes of liberty, struggle and creative identity pumping through its veins. Within ten tracks, Snow fluently meanders between musical styles: from low tempo soothers like album opener ‘Cooler’ and ‘Fall’ to the syncopated bruk of ‘The Rhythm’ and cosmic funk escapades found on ‘Nothing Wrong’.
“Coming to Berlin was a liberation because I could play with many things, especially electronic music, and approach it freely regardless of the fact that I was African,” notes Snow. “Being in Berlin also helped me to fully understand the origin of electronic music which is unmistakably black.”
When it comes to creativity, Oko Ebombo is no one-trick pony. Raised in the tenth arrondissement of Paris, the multi-talented virtuoso got his introduction to the arts through dance. In the past, he’s held his own photographic exhibition titled Okosexuel and opened the Pigalle AW15 menswear show with his soulful vocals.
Now he serves as the frontman of his band, 19. Started back in 2009, Ebombo’s musical project mixes elements of poetry and movement, and is inspired by “his own life and urban experiences”. ‘Iro’ and ‘Naked Life’ are both rooted in jazz, with Ebombo enunciating each lyric with all the flourishes of his beautiful French dialect.
Lakeisha Goedluck, Dazed
The most infectious sound in Cairo right now is that of Rozzma. A few months ago, the video ‘Baby’ began to circulate, in which the producer appeared behind a golden pharaoh mask. It was immediately apparent that a new sound had been born; a blend of maximalist synths, thick beats, psychedelia and traditional Arabic music, warped and processed using several production filters. His potential was confirmed by the pure adrenaline rush of EP ‘Donya Faka’, the first benchmark release on the new label from French duo Acid Arab. Rozzma does everything: program, rap (with Auto-Tune) and produces pure rave hypnosis, with thick bass lines like concrete walls and rhythms that hit you in the stomach, at times not dissimilar to hardcore. He defines his sound as "a mixture of fire truck sirens and a sound system on fire".
Gomnam is an Iranian MC who, following a protracted asylum battle with the UK Home Office which included an extended period of incarceration, is currently based in Liverpool, enlightening the city’s music scene with his unique take on beat-driven, grime-infused, Persian rap. To hear him bark lyrics in Farsi, the most widely spoken language in Iran, on his explosive debut EP ‘Tike Tike’, is to hear the impotent voice of a generation completely disillusioned with the Iranian status quo. In a staccato, throaty baritone, he spits out lines at speed and with intense ferocity and purpose.
COMMUNITY CINEMA EVENTS
Isla Gladstone Conservatory, Stanley Park / 9th July / Free
Prenton Park / 1st July / Free
Opening time: 3pm
Set within the grounds of the Isla Gladstone Conservatory in Stanley Park – flanked by Goodison and Anfield – and Tranmere Rovers’ Prenton Park, the events will see the screening of two deeply moving films; ‘Forbidden Games: The Justin Fashanu Story’ and ‘Football Rebels’.
Green Screen Cinema will see a series of pop-up cinema screenings take place at the heart of the communities who live in the modern game’s backdrop. Featuring radical and challenging football cinema and documentaries, the project is designed to explore and showcase alternative interpretations, debates and ideas around the beautiful game, set within the locales surrounding our city’s great football institutions.
As the global sporting world lurches from one corruption scandal to the next, the indomitable Eric Cantona presents the stories of five football heroes whose social conscience led them to challenge unjust regimes, join opposition movements and lead the fight for democracy and human rights. 'Football Rebels' looks at a side of football that does not always make the headlines. Exploring the stories of Socrates, Drogba, Mekhloufi, Caszely and Pasic, this Gilles Rof directed film tells the stories of the players who took huge risks, using their profile and status to bring about true political and social change in their home countries.
Justin Fashanu rose to fame in 1980 after scoring the goal of the season against Liverpool, leading a generation of black footballers through the English league. Abandoned as a child and raised by a white foster family in the UK, he faced plenty of uphill battles. But despite bigotry and bullying from unruly football fans during the Thatcher era, Fashanu blazed his own trail by also becoming the first openly gay athlete on the pitch. He had the talent, swagger and charisma to become one of the most celebrated athletes Britain had ever seen. Through unprecedented access to coaches, teammates and family, filmmakers Adam Darke and Jon Carey unpack one of the most fascinating and ultimately tragic sports stories you'll ever see. Forbidden Games not only explores Fashanu's battle with issues of race and sexuality in professional sports, but also the understanding that not everyone is ready for the spotlight.
INTERNATIONAL BANNER PARADE AND COMMUNITY PRODUCTION PROJECT
Lead Artist: Peter Carney
Produced by Foto Octo
Public realm parade / 14th June / Free
Static exhibition / NML’s Martin Luther King Building / 15th June – 15th July / Free
The terrace is football’s altar. A platform for creative expression and communal outpouring in song, a community bound by the love of a team. This project will draw on the longstanding, international tradition of banners at football matches as a vehicle for collective expression.
Long established and revered Liverpool banner artist Peter Carney will lead this large-scale project, working with community organisations and schools across the city to design and produce a series of new banner artworks. Residents and community organisations native to each of the 32 participating World Cup nations drawn from across Liverpool, will be invited to a series of workshops to produce the banner artworks, showcasing the world in one city.
Working with a team of illustrators and designers, the artworks will be presented as part of a large parade through the city, to mark the start of the Art Of Football project and the 2018 World Cup. The banners will then go on display at National Museum Liverpool’s Martin Luther King building in Liverpool’s Albert Dock for the duration of the World Cup.