Between the lines

Emerging from the practices of documentary photography, I scrutinize the premise of an experienced social dysfunction - an outcome ascribed to the deficiency in nurturing relational abilities. In this context, the project outlines the ways in which access to spaces intended for team sports is restricted, their practice representing an incipient stage in the formation of social interaction skills.

In team games, individuals adhere to a common objective, learn collective integration, and navigate through distinct rules and goals. The absence of these early learned social dynamics could contribute to the observed deficits concerning cohesion.

In Eastern Europe, the most accessible venues for these types of interactions are the open-air sports fields of public schools. The project primarily tracks these social interaction spaces, with a significant emphasis on those located in former working-class neighborhoods, erected during the communist era, for comparative analysis using both privately managed fields and those in metropolitan recreational areas.

During the communist childhood, these fields were the principal spaces serving as a backdrop for camaraderie, where neighbors, friends, and classmates collaborated and competed on the football field that could have fluid demarcation lines, goals that could be stones or backpacks, the height of the goal up to the goalkeeper’s knee level, or as far as he could stretch his hand, and game times defined by breaks between classes, the first goal scored, or the moment dusk fell.

The visual narrative unveils a reality where the majority are asphalt surfaces, unsuitable for sports activities, hindering free access through locked gates and towering fences. Schools that choose to construct sports halls in place of former sports fields further constrict access.

Of course, there are sports fields with suitable facilities, but these are spaces managed privately or municipally, accessible for a fee, which become inaccessible due to both costs and their location.

The methodological approach is straightforward: from the public space, I photograph constituent elements (demarcation lines, goals, panels) that define the spaces dedicated to team sports. This type of photographic approach generates the deliberate visual deconstruction of the subject, concluding that the “sports field” is much more than the sum of its constituent elements, also being defined by rules independent of external reality, by its own temporality, and by the capacity to influence reality beyond the demarcation lines.

Teodor Bădărău, Iași, june 2017