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3 August 2009

Christine Fenzl, Striking chance – Streetfootball

In 2005 and 2006, I followed four non-governmental organisations (NGOs), which understand football as a medium to attract children from the streets and offer support and motivation. They use the power of sport to transform the lives of some of the most socially deprived youngsters. Furthermore, they help to create a perspective for the future. Football is a way of hope and allows for the personal development of young people and their communities. I realised that football is not only a sport. It is a form of communication— of interaction—a language of its own and a release of feelings. It is a powerful game, a game played all over the world—not to mention the strong impact of football on the economy. To many people, it means all that, and for many others it has an even stronger significance. Many problems have to be faced simultaneously in a high-crime area like Mathare Slum, Nairobi. Most of the children grow up in the streets and are caught up in poverty, drugs and violence. The AIDS scourge has increased over the years and has claimed the lives of many people. Daily life is about survival. There is no architecture, no structure, there are no choices. The destructiveness of the conflicts is so overwhelming that I am in awe of the power of these young people to withstand that force. I am impressed by the teenagers and kids who give this struggle a face. I admire the strength that the young people have and I am fascinated by the different ways football can stir the power to keep on going. In the exhibition I show portraits of juveniles who experience social and urban extremes in different countries, kids who are confronted with the conflicts of divided societies. My aim is to give these kids a platform to show the dimension they live in.

The four NGOs are Streetleague, London, England (football for the integration of formerly homeless people and drug addicts), July 2005; Street Football for Peace and Tolerance, Skopje, Macedonia (football for communication and integration after the war in former Yugoslavia), September 2005; Craques Du Sempre, São Paulo, Brazil (football in the favelas, prevention of drug problems and youth crime), October 2005; Mathare Youth Sports Association, Nairobi, Kenya (football linked with environmental cleanups and AIDS prevention), December 2006. Streetfootballworld supported my work in England, Macedonia and Kenya; the series in São Paulo, Brazil, was supported by a fellowship from the Goethe Institut.

Christine Fenzl, 2009.

Prints by the artist.

Framing by Bilderrhamen Janecki, Germany.

Exhibition « Ça me touche, Nan Goldin’s guests ».

Exhibition venue: Atelier de Mécanique, Parc des Ateliers, Rencontres d’Arles 2009.