On Monday night, we had the pleasure of attending Flora Maclean’s exhibition launch for ‘Every Player Counts’. Spending just over a year collating it and being a football player herself, Flora’s insightful exhibition presents an intimate documentation of women’s football clubs around the UK.
The exhibitions name is emphasized by Flora’s juxtaposition of striking individual portraits alongside all-encompassing team shots showing the singular and collective importance of these women making a stand against stereotypical views of football as a male sport. Incredible mid-action shots depicting women playing the game with just as much roughness and gumption as any man attests to female strength, both on and off the pitch.
Unlike the usual monotonous, male-oriented portrayals of football, Flora’s female gaze provides a unique take and emphasis on different elements of the game: a usually ignored sensuality is hinted at by arms brushing and hanging around each other’s shoulders; hands reaching for each other in a warm up stretch; heads knocking and girlish laughter as two ladies crouch in the mud by a weather beaten goal; and knees bashing the backs of shins as the ball is jostled for… In also capturing a diverse range of striking hairstyles and colours, the female presence is connoted where androgynous sports kits deny it, as well as further attesting to the range of interesting personalities composing the teams. Besides the obvious messages of taking a stand against the game’s infamous gender prejudices, the palpable juxtaposition of black and white skin tones suggest grassroots football as a space for racial equality, combating the often very real associations of football with racism.
With ‘Every Player Counts’ on at 71a Gallery – near Old Street Station – until this Friday, we would thoroughly recommend a little excursion there to see something pleasantly different from the usual fashion/art photography!