Martin Kazanietz, the ancient and contemporary art of fútbol

The Argentinian artist who celebrates the football faith and its believers

“The difference between me and contemporary kids is simple. What you learn playing for money in the suburban mud is not taught in the academies.”

In an age that is increasingly about numbers, statistics and social glory, is the art of football still important? It is essential for all of us, Juan Román Riquelme would answer, recalling the humble origins of his magical fútbol and introducing the work of his compatriot Martin Kazaniez. In the canvases and murals of this contemporary Argentine artist, football becomes a people’s song, where the most real and tangible figures of the entire soccer system become the protagonists of an imperfect, yet enchanting collective ritual. The religion of fútbol is handed down by its believers, their beers and irrationalities. The religion of fútbol is handed down by its lovers, by their noisy passion and silent deeds. And no place like the homeland of Diego Armando Maradona, the least profane of earthly gods, could have been the muse of this young artist.

Just days after the conclusion of the exhibition ‘Llenos de Todo’ at Galerie LJ in Paris, we caught up with and interviewed Gordopelota, understanding the value of football in his artistic philosophy and life.

What role did football and art play in your childhood?

“Playing fútbol and basketball was all I did most of the time. When I wasn’t in my neighborhood local club or at a random pitch or in the streets playing with friends, I loved playing fútbol videogames too. My parents were not into sports at all, but they encouraged me to practice a lot of it. What they were really into was art, as they both are artists now. We had a lot of art at home: books, comics, movies…. They took me to museums every time they could too. I drew a lot of goalkeepers when I was very young, but then I stopped drawing since I thought I was bad at it.”

When did you realize that you could merge these two universes?

“I started drawing again when I was 25. I met a friend who was a graffiti writer and I started doodling and doing graffiti too. There was no need to be good at it and I loved that, it was a matter of just doing it. I did this a lot for 2-3 years. After some time, I began to be more confident with materials, and I started creating and painting characters. I was still doing graffiti, but I used to replace my name and letters with special images. I was always a big fan of Florencio Molina Campos (a local folk painter who created a naive and caricaturesque world of gauchos) and I immediately knew I wanted to do something related to his work, but with amateur local fútbol world, which I thought it was an unexplored subject in Argentinian art.”

What were your reference points and idols in both fields? Is there a footballer who sums up the soul and DNA of Gordopelota?

“Artistically I have infinite references points, from more classic paintings, to music videos, movies and photographers. In terms of football, I can’t think of any player, because most of the fútbol related artwork I ever did was influenced by local folks playing amateur five a side. But since all my work is full of ‘Argentinity’, I could say Diego spirit is an omnipresent figure in all of it. Especially because he was a great myth or fable that explains a lot of our complex identity.”

The football star system doesn’t appear in your works. You portray the real football, made of beers, barrios, cigarettes and curvy bodies. What do you want to communicate through these subjects?

“I think there is too much advertising image around the football industry and star players. We get saturated of this content all the time. We don’t need art that looks like painted advertisements too. I used to think there was something to communicate with these images. I studied graphic design, so I have a background on having intentions on how to communicate with images. But after developing a good number of artworks, I started shifting from trying to communicate something with a specific image, to a more open and poetic approach to image making.”

‘Camisetas’, football jerseys, play a key role in your works. What are the factors that make you choose a specific jersey?

“Before graphic design I studied filmmaking for a year. I learned the concept of ‘deictic’: these elements merge the tangible world of reality and the abstract world of fantasy. Some small references and details can place you in a specific time and space, even if the narrative is completely fictional. I like to paint some of these like clothing, or a place, or a haircut, so it connects this fictional world of brushstrokes and paint with the world I experience every day in life.”

Your paintings are exhibited in museums all over the world, they were also in Paris. Your murals, on the other hand, populate various cityscapes and mystical places, such as La Bombonera in Buenos Aires. Do you prefer to show your art through canvases or murals?

“I showed in different cities around the world but actually not in museums that much, just a couple of them. Next year I’ll be part of a big show (fingers crossed). I slowly shifted from murals to studio work. I found this way a better way to create the work I wanted to do. I think La Bombonera was one of the last murals I did. I never ever in my life thought I would paint there. It was one of my favorite projects ever, even though I don´t like the result that much.”

Your artistic production also touches on other sports. Will you continue to focus on football in the future, or will you open your horizons more and more toward basketball, tennis, etc.?

“I did a big series that reflected the photos I accumulate in my phone. This were crops of images I found there, and since I still try to practice as many sports as I can, a lot of them were sports related. I’m not sure what will come later. Now I´m finishing a series of paintings that started when Argentina won the World Cup. It´s about big crowds in situations that could be seen as a celebration, but also as protest at the same time.”

Esplora, discover Nepal to discover ourselves

Bikepacking, visual arts and social sensitivity: the virtuous Nepalese journey supported by Briko

Esplora is an invitation. An invitation from a group of creative Italians united by their passion for the outdoors and its many ramifications. Esplora is guidance. Guidance from a pool of young communicators to open up individual and collective horizons, combining visual arts and introspective experiences in mystical places like Nepal. This small corner of Asia is said to be the epitome of natural beauty and cultural richness. Within its ancient borders, Team Esplora, supported by the pragmatic wisdom of experienced adventurer Giuseppe Papa, will embark on a 1,200km journey, intensified by almost 25,000m of elevation. Augmented and supported by Briko’s vision and technical equipment, this venture will mix iconic sites, such as the Bodhi tree, where Prince Siddhartha achieved enlightenment, and mythological routes, such as the dreaded Thorung La, the highest pass on the planet. Marco Ricci and Davide Ciarletta, two Esplora members undertaking this many-sided journey, will contribute their voices to a physical, mental, and documented itinerary, which we will follow alongside Briko.

The outdoors and the visual arts: this combination has been taking on ever more forms and meaning in recent times. Within this global dynamic, how and when did Esplora become a reality?

“Esplora was born out of synchronization. We’re all passionate cyclists and long-time riders; we like to experience different things and go on long journeys. Over time, we have come to understand what fatigue means and where it can lead us. Our first real step towards the Esplora project was on the Alta Via dei Monti Liguri. We already knew each other, but during that collective journey, we noticed how we were creating parallel and related content, so we decided to go in a common direction. Our goal is to share experiences because sharing is what makes us human, and to guide the people around us out of their comfort zones: to discover things within and without. After all, every place can change a human being deep inside.”

How does Nepal fit into this far-reaching thought process? What attracted you to this magical country?

“Again, it was all chance. Or rather, chance doesn’t exist; let’s just say that the dots got connected and were destined to do so. At the last Bologna Bike Tourism Fair, we sat down with explorer Giuseppe Papa. We’d been intrigued by his photos from Patagonia, Iceland, Kyrgyzstan, and countless other parts of the world. After about ten minutes, with his characteristic candor, he invited us to cross Nepal with him. It was special. We’re honored to discover this country with a highly skilled athlete like him, and can’t wait to have him share his 45-plus years of experience with us. We feel safe, and we know that Giuseppe will help us turn problems into adventures. In fact, he’s in India now, cycling at 4,300 meters with his partner Luca, and they’ll join us on the Nepalese border. Overall, we are attracted to Nepal, its history and ancient culture, and our content will try to narrate and channel all that.”

What kind of expectations, convictions and, of course, uncertainties are you approaching this undertaking?

“We’ll cover 1,800km in about 40 days: It’s not an impossible feat, but it’s certainly made more challenging by the more than 1,000m of daily elevation. As is often the case, our bikepacking will also involve many moments of hiking where we’ll have to carry the bike, which will require a lot of energy. At the same time, we’re going to be shooting a documentary, so we’ll be carrying heavy equipment. We’ll be taking it all on with a non-competitive spirit. Esplora projects do not revolve around performance; our philosophy is purely creative and experiential. On a physical level, it’ll be a struggle, but we’re trained and, thanks to Giuseppe, we can handle the various unknowns that’ll pop up along the way: from temperatures to the more pragmatic stuff like meals and nights in the tent.”

The connection with Briko will play a key role on several fronts, allowing you to wear functional material, convey content to a wide audience and, consequently, raise awareness of this trip’s social function. How important is this relationship?

“We are definitely happy, because we think it’s a genuine connection. We were immediately in sync with the Briko people and they’ve been giving us maximum support from an expressive-creative perspective and in product research. All the apparel we’ll wear in Nepal will be Briko. Physical balance is good for the mind, and clothing plays a key role on trips like this: being comfortable with the right materials is essential. No question. On the other hand, having a larger audience will allow us to share our views, moods and aspirations, in our own small way, to make a real impact on the new generation in Nepal. We’ve launched the first Explora crowdfunding campaign. Part of the money will go towards the work of VISPE, an organization committed to supporting health and education in disadvantaged countries, including Nepal. The funds raised will be used to finance the renovation of a kindergarten and, at the same time, to promote this documentary. We hope it will raise awareness among as many as possible. Finally, the first 50 donors will receive a special photograph book of the trip, printed with the Legnano social cooperative La Mano, which has provided employment opportunities for people with various disabilities for years.”

The departure is just around the corner. What kind of feelings are running through you?

“The tension’s been building for the past week, but it’s the typical feeling that comes before a big trip. We’re excited by the crossing and our documentary concept. We’re also pretty sure it’ll take at least a week to get into the swing of things and find the right balance between traveling and creating content… After all, it’s a first for us in many ways, and we can’t help but be excited.”




Giovanna Selva, running is two-dimensional

Thanks to the HOKA Spikes Tour, we interviewed the talented middle-distance runner and brand ambassador

Like her thought process, Giovanna Selva’s running is direct and crystal clear, devoid of contemporary mannerisms. Born on 17 September 2000 in Ossola and brought up in the small town of Druogno amidst the gentle valleys that link Italy and Switzerland, this middle-distance runner is the picture-perfect embodiment of her territory.

Fresh from the podium of the European U23 Cross Country Championships and the World Junior Mountain Running Championships, we meet up with Giovanna on the Alzano Lombardo track. She’s one of the feature athletes on the Spikes Tour organized by HOKA: a travelling event that allows young competitors in various Italian cities to discover and test the Cielo X2 MD and Cielo X2 spiked shoes, the latest from the brand from the French Alps, not far from where Giovanna’s story began.

“My history with running all started thanks to cross-country skiing. It allowed me to discover athletics because the training sessions varied according to the season. When the snow disappeared from ‘my’ mountains, I had to make a choice, and I chose running. Initially, my feelings were a bit mixed, but the coaches helped me fall in love. When I was 15, they introduced me to the technique and the track. I’ve always been inspired by the people around me, not just great athletes. I mean my mother, a former cross-country skier, my father, and my grandmother, who at 83 still runs her café without stopping for a second. I didn’t think I could have a real career, but when I finished third at the Italian Mountain Running Championships, I realized something was possible. That podium automatically qualified me for the World Championships. I found out after the race was over, and I almost apologized to the selector. I remember telling him I wouldn’t be offended if he decided not to take me…”

Although the “tartan” isn’t her native stomping grounds, Giovanna is carving a path as much through nature as between the lanes, scoring cyclical personal bests and breaking down barriers, as demonstrated by her recent result under 33 minutes on the 10K. Hers is a hybrid and frenzied evolution, passing through technical refinement and the study of her own mind and sensations.

“I started running in the woods near my home. I’ve always felt that I can improve my body in those environments. I often go back there alone. I experience training as a kind of exploration: I look for new trails and admire all the different animals; in the early morning, you can even see fawns and small deer. And I listen to my legs as I push uphill. You always feel something more intense in the woods. It’s like I’m always searching for something…. everything is different on the track. In the woods, I get excited by that sense of freedom, while on the track, it’s all about precision, that relationship between space and time, and the fact there’s no margin for error. I’m 23 and fully aware I’m in the middle of a maturation process. It’s about the mind and technique. It’s just the beginning, and I imagine it’ll take a while”.

In addition to the mainstay of her running, present and future, Giovanna is also working on a career away from the stopwatch and finish lines. But not away from the pressure. She’s studying medicine. As difficult as it might sound to be a world-class athlete while also burying her head in the books or an operating theatre, she tells us its possible, with her own kind of straightforward wisdom.

“I’d always wanted to enroll in medicine. When I did, I hadn’t reached this kind of athletic caliber. Now, everything is pretty complex. I’ve just finished two weeks of training, and it was hectic: I woke up, trained, worked in the hospital all day, trained again, and then straight to bed. I worked my butt off, but every night I was euphoric. I don’t think any feeling compares to that degree of tiredness: that tiredness that makes you want to hit the sack and start again the next day. I never thought I could inspire anyone with my ‘double life’, but lately, little things have been happening that help me realize how much people care about me. When children ask for my autograph or tell me about their experiences, I feel a mix of responsibility and motivation”.

And these scenes also play out in Alzano Lombardo, where a large community of local athletes test out the new HOKA spiked shoes with this easygoing Azzurro talent. Giovanna’s two-dimensional world, balanced between woods and tracks, sports and academics, is also split between individual effort and collective sharing.

After all, running cannot exist without a group. Giovanna confirms this when she talks about the Seve Team, the Piedmontese squad with whom she shares most of her weekly exertions. ‘And there can be no execution without the right shoe’, she adds just before she and her companions accelerate into a sprint, celebrating the brand she represents.

“The collective is fundamental in running. The presence of other people helps me during training. It’s especially true when I have to do work I could never do alone, but also before and after the run. We’re not just athletes. We’re people. The jokes, the snacks, and the chats make me want to keep running even when I’m exhausted or sick… The Seve Team is all that to me, and I’m happy that HOKA has decided to support this team from my home. I’m not surprised, because the brand’s sensitivity towards the community is truly incredible. Linking with HOKA was a huge step that made me feel important. Participating in events like the Spikes Tour just makes me happy: raising awareness and enhancing the knowledge of young athletes is something I cherish. Shoes are really the single most important product for every runner. In a world of online marketing, it’s crucial to test and understand the characteristics of those running ‘companions’, especially if it’s a spike shoe. HOKA is there for runners, and I’m happy to be there, too.

Thanks to HOKA

Text by Gianmarco Pacione

Photo Credits: Riccardo Romani

Behind the Lights – Shawn Hubbard

The photographer who portrays America’s major sports in all their narrative and aesthetic dimensions

It’s critical to build trust and make a connection when you’re working with an athlete at any level. Everyone thinks that because athletes perform on the biggest stages under tremendous pressure that they are comfortable being photographed, but they are often not at ease in front of the camera. I am constantly trying to find ways to evoke the feelings and emotions they experience on the field. They are real people just like everyone else and this is why action photography is a secondary focus of what I do. It’s certainly important, but I’m more intrigued with what it took for an athlete to get to this point in their life. I’m talking about the sacrifice, dedication, perseverance, joy and maybe even the heartbreak…”

From the Baltimore Ravens’ yards to the fashion eclecticism of Kyle Kuzma and the NBA universe. Shawn Hubbard’s photography portrays all the narrative and aesthetic dimensions of major American sports, managing to explore the identities of international superstars. But his photography also succeeds in stepping outside monumental domes and arenas, depicting the effect that the sports element can have on society, as well as on ordinary U.S.-made personalities.

“Professional athletes are not the only ones who have a story to tell. Here in Baltimore, I’ve been on a mission of sorts to tell positive stories of local youth athletes whose participation in sports may be one of the only positive influences in their lives. I think there is a strong link between sports and emotions and my work has often gravitated towards showing this connection. I was not a great athlete, but in my teenage years I played baseball, soccer and track and field, and in college I played rugby. I was dedicated to the sports I played, but I never had big aspirations to be a professional athlete. Especially as I got older, my main motivation for playing was the comradery between myself and my teammates. Later in life, when I had the opportunity to start photographing sports I immediately gravitated towards documenting these bonds and the other emotions that arise out of competition. When I’m creating an image, I’m trying to make something that forces the viewer to pause and reflect on what they are seeing. Making a ‘good’ picture is not enough. Years ago it might have been enough, but today anyone can make a beautiful photograph. I want my images to be impactful and to make ‘statements’. My goal is to tell an entire story through a single image and I want that image and that story to last, even if it is an almost impossible goal to achieve.”

As a child, inspired by the eternal omnipotence of ‘His Airness’ Michael Jordan, and as a young photographer, by the dances of contrasts and colors of Al Bello and the innovative advertising production of Tim Tadder, Shawn’s visual imagery turns out to be a narrative vortex balancing deep portraiture and commercial expression. A narrative vortex that will continue to develop in the future, drawing inspiration from another central muse in the life of this Baltimore-based photographer: music.

Music has always been a big part of who I am and allows me to connect with people. When I’m working on commercial productions, music helps me evoke certain feelings out of whomever I’m photographing, whether that may be a moment of quiet reflection or one of dancing and yelling. I have been collaborating with the Baltimore Ravens since back in 2007, documenting the plays on the field and the quiet behind-the-scenes moments that people don’t normally have access to. If I had to think of the most iconic photo I have taken, while I don’t think I have a clear-cut favorite, an image that comes to mind is one I made of Ray Lewis before his last game played in Baltimore. For years I photographed him performing his pre-game ‘Squirrel Dance’ from out on the field, but for this game I wanted to capture a different perspective and a different point in time. I wanted to show people the brief moment of calm right before he walked out of that tunnel and performed his flamboyant ritual one last time as a player. I keep searching for images like that. Moving forward I want to continue to combine documentary and commercial work along with directing and hope to do more work enhancing the connection between sports and fashion which continues to provide a thriving platform for athletes to express themselves.”

Text by: Gianmarco Pacione

Behind the Lights – Cédric Dasesson

Sardinia is a feeling that only a true Sardinian can understand and portray

“I don’t feel like a photographer, but someone who imprints something through the photographic medium. I have never been interested in the sublime concept, I have always looked for the simple person; I have always wanted to photograph what is not photographable, and the sea, in this respect, is a world of its own. I was born and raised in Sardinia, now I am surviving in this land. I have always been comfortable in a world made up of solitude, perhaps also because of my sports background. I started from an early age with athletics, an individual sport, where you have to constantly think about yourself in order to be competitive. At the same time, the sea became my land, a world where I could and still can truly understand myself: it is a parallel universe, made of silence and concentration, antithetical to the society around us.”

It is difficult to describe the Sardinian soul. It is even more difficult to portray it. Cédric Dasesson is the pseudonym of an islander-researcher; it is the concealed identity of a photographer driven by the need to document an atypical, hostile, watery realm-the Sardinian realm. His aesthetic philosophy takes on the traits of a form of resistance: resistance to the contrived spectacularization and cannibalization of his homeland. A special resistance that uses the photographic medium as a manifesto for the accurate anthropological, architectural and naturalistic study of a region unique in history and morphology

“I studied architecture here in Cagliari. During my undergraduate years McKenna and his long exposures were my photographic reference points. At that time I decided to publish my shots and not use my real identity on social media. I had a globally famous namesake and, after talking to a professor, I preferred to take a different artistic path: I wanted to exist without existing, to create a mental diversification in my everyday life, a clear division between public and private. I came from the writing scene and the tag was a kind of forma mentis for me. Richard Long and Bill Viola helped evolve my vision regarding the relationship between architectural structures and landscape. Then, thanks to Alec Soth, I understood the function and importance of human portraiture: all over the world there are people and identities to look for. Living in Sardinia allows me to combine all this, gives me the opportunity to work on the stereotyping of regional peculiarities, to express the stubbornness inherent in the DNA of our microworld, and to explore the concept of human survival.”

From the tartan of athletic tracks to the waters of the Sardinian Sea. The element of sport has shaped Cédric Dasesson’s identity and consistently influences his artistic research. Every athlete in front of his camera stops being an athlete, or rather, stops being defined by achievements and successes, regressing (or progressing) to the as simple as complex condition of a human being connected to nature.

After many surgeries for athletic-related problems, I took up triathlon and my relationship with Sardinian waters evolved further. My photographic production touches on the sports theme while staying true to the cornerstones I have already mentioned. I have no interest in sports stars, I am fascinated by the personalities of those who live in symbiosis with the sea: human beings who use sport as a tool to nurture and explore this relationship. Sure, I happened to photograph world-class surfers, windsurfers or freedivers, but in my vision there is no difference between them and those who live the sea with a visceral passion. At the same time, I am fascinated by the human ability to push the limits. In this case I can give the example of Ulisse Idra, a base jumper and great friend. I have seen him do some incredible feats. One of them created the ’97 meters’ series. He is now recovering from a serious crash and I hope he can return to jumping as soon as possible. Finally when we talk about Sardinia I realize that we cannot talk about football. In every village there is a field. Again, my idea is that this football presence is nothing more than yet another stereotype of our land. A land that expresses its knowledge through its roots. A land where sports are played while looking at the sea.”

Cédric Dasesson’s resistance seems destined to continue in time and space. The same space, the Sardinian aquatic and human space. “Being here is a challenge,” he confides, “But through the challenge I try to realize a dream.” The dream of narrating and sublimating the real Sardinia.

Behind the Lights – Celia D. Luna

Cultural heritage and roots, female grace and power: the colorful world of the Andean photographer

“My origins, my culture and my relationship with my mother shape the background of both my artistic and human identity. They are all really important factors. I consider myself an Andean and tropical woman, because I came to Miami from Peru. These are two worlds that share so many colors. The Andean world and its people, however, have suffered and continue to suffer discrimination and forms of racism. That is why I want to change the relationship with the uniqueness of this culture through my work. I want to show the diversity and values of these people, I want them to stop being ashamed of their roots.”

If you want to immerse yourself in a cascade of colors and cultural echoes, check out the shots of Celia D. Luna. In the photographic production of this Andean artist and now Florida adoptee, ancient traditions, modern folklore and contemporary revolutions merge. Because roots cannot be forgotten. Because roots must be elevated, becoming a tool for social affirmation and, especially in Celia’s case, female empowerment.

“I only knew photography concretely in college, at first it was just a passion. I loved and love Tim Walker, because he can combine fashion with storytelling, all his shoots tell something. When a friend of mine asked me to take some portraits, I realized that photography could become so much more in my life. Over time, this artistic medium turned into an organic process of self exploration and discovery. My aesthetic gravitates around colors and the desire to portray atypical subjects that can allow me to tell real stories, mostly related to my homeland. I feel responsibilities because I want to portray and show Andean culture and the role women play within it. I do things from the heart and even the commercial works follow this philosophy: they are almost always related to the sublimation of female power and grace. I love the fact that my photography has social meaning and value.”

In the colorful gallery of Celia D. Luna the sports element plays a key role in the understanding and dissemination of female power. It is the ideal platform to collect testimonies of modern andinity and its atypical female protagonists, driven by the desire to uplift their condition and, at the same time, to influence future generations. Cultural heritage needs to be embraced and shared, Celia’s images communicate, as in the magnum opus ‘Cholitas Bravas,’ dedicated to courageous Andean skaters, climbers, and wrestlers.

“Sports has enriched me and my relationship with the Andes. Sports stories have the ability to touch so many people and inspire them. I am talking, for example, about the Bolivian women’s collective Imilla Skate, which is bringing so many girls closer to the ‘chola’ culture, its customs and traditions, and to the board as a way of independence. I’m talking about the climbers who experience the Andes as a meeting point with their mothers, their lives and knowledge. I am talking about the girls who, since the early 2000s, have been practicing ‘lucha libre’ to protect themselves from physical abuse: pioneers who started a tradition that continues to this day in Bolivia. Femininity is power, grace and kindness, and sports highlight these characteristics of ours”

The next step in this celebration of cultural heritages and femininity will be inspired by a unique musical landscape. Colombian Cumbia and its ‘barrios’ are the current investigation of this Peruvian photographer, a new piece in a colorful and virtuoso mosaic in the making, where everything turns out to be meaningful: even the high school prom of a young daughter, a conscious symbol of a future that will always have to remember its origins.

Credits: Celia D. Luna
Text by: Gianmarco Pacione

Ted Hesser, sports habit fights depression

Chains of Habit’ explains how outdoor sports can curb inner demons and fractures

It all starts with an ancient saying and a child talking to his grandfather. Two wolves are fighting, one represents goodness, joy, positivity, empathy, love, and kindness; the other represents greed, jealousy, and fear. The child asks the grandfather which wolf wins…. And the grandfather replies: the wolf you feed. The short film ‘Chains of Habit’ revolves around the nuances of this powerful native metaphor, taking us into the emotional and psychological depths of alpinist, ultra-runner and visual creative Ted Hesser, explaining how physical exertion can limit and counter depression.

“I had learned about the two wolves metaphor during a shooting in British Columbia, it seemed perfect for portraying and explaining depression. It’s an inner experience, you feel that something is feeding that bad wolf and you can’t be in control of it…. This idea resonates inside me when I’m depressed, it’s like there’s another actor inside the room. That’s why I need to do sports – to run and to climb. ‘Chains of Habit’ talks about the importance of sport and the physical dimension to regain control of what you feel is slipping away. Endurance activity is the most valuable and healthy tool for creating this displacement. It is essential and healthy. It is not like drugs or other self-destructive practices that, too often, end up trapping people in emotional and psychological distress.”

The relationship between the mountain and this documentary filmmaker/athlete speaks the language of love and intimate exploration of human foibles. Raised by Grand Teton National Park, Hesser refers to this element as a safe place where he has built his working reputation, and where, most importantly, he has shaped and is continuing to shape his own identity.

“The mountains immediately gave me confidence and are still helping me to form a true sense of me. In my college days I was fortunate enough to study overseas and be involved in some great documentary expeditions. I was not a high-level athlete and I was an immature photographer, but being alongside phenomena like Cory Richards motivated me to improve: from that point on I became much more serious about what I was doing. At the same time I fought depression on a private level. Both climbing and running played a key role in this battle. ‘Chains of Habit’ wants to describe this role, which became pivotal during the pandemic, when isolation had dragged so many other people into dark places and no one talked about the value of physical activity in limiting and repairing the damages. It is an extremely personal film, a multidimensional production that involved my heart and mind.”

‘Chains of Habit’ will be one of the featured films at the ONA Short Film Festival in Venice, where Hesser will not be able to be present due to his immanent fatherhood, which is further altering his relationship with life. A new chapter in which sports continues and will continue to play a key part.

“A child makes you reflect on many things. Lately I’ve been working on myself the best I can, there’s a little fire that drives me to try to be happier, calmer and more present. So many people don’t understand that when you’re depressed it’s really hard to focus on other people – you don’t have enough energy. I’m realizing that I can’t take care of someone else unless I learn to take care of myself first. I am meditating, eating well, doing therapy and physical activity. I want to be the best version of myself for my son. His birth will most likely not allow me to be in Venice for ONA, but I hope my short film will help people gain strength and inspiration for their struggles. ‘Chains of Habit’ is meant to be a positive message, one of many, that can help all of us and our daily battles.”

Welcome to Planet Tevere

“Io, Tevere – Le radici del mare,” Marco Spinelli and Roberto D’Amico explain why a legendary river can raise awareness among all of us

The Tevere is a metaphor for our Planet. The Tevere is a metaphor for ourselves. In the 405 kilometers of the river that epitomized Roman Civilization is summed up the essence of the most tragic contemporary issue – the relationship between human beings and nature. “Io, Tevere – Le radici del mare” is Marco Spinelli and Roberto D’Amico’s aquatic pilgrimage, a short docu that travels the entire length of this legendary river, exploring its splendors and miseries. An immersion in the Italian territory that reveals how much man has affected and is continuing to affect these waters. Riding for several stretches on their SUPs, Marco and Roberto build a dialogue on two levels, around which the entire film revolves – a mental level, shaped by reflections, testimonies and a conscious ecological sensibility; and a physical level, shaped by the visual clash between sublime pristine sceneries and spots destroyed by human degeneration. This duo of creatives, activists and water sportsmen also decided to have a dialogue with us, in order to introduce the movie in competition at the ONA Shortfilm Festival and tell us the reasons behind this virtuous production.

How did the project “Io, Tevere” come about? What do you want to tell with this documentary?

Marco Spinelli: “Roberto and I met two years ago, I found out about his commitment to the seas and oceans, and he learned about my similar activities. We immediately connected. Roberto told me about how difficult it is to surf in Ladispoli (near Rome), because of the waste brought by the Tevere. At first we thought about set up a clean up event, but soon after this different kind of trip took shape in our minds. I have a brother who is a marine biologist and he often tells me that interesting topics related to water protection decay because they are explained in an overly complex way. That’s why we decided to raise awareness while having fun, using simple and genuine words. Being spontaneous doesn’t mean belittling the problems of our Planet, it means that we can try to communicate to a wider audience, who may be able to understand the voice of the environment.”

Roberto D’Amico: “The Tevere is something we all think we know, yet no one really knows this river. We have tried to describe it. I always associated it with pollution, instead along the way I had to change my mind, I found beautiful places and breathtaking natural scenery. At the same time I threw up in downtown Rome while smelling the stench of the water, trying to pick up a bicycle wreck from the depths. I experienced swinging sensations, enriched by the people we met on the trip: figures who live and protect the Tevere on a daily basis. This river represents everything: Venice, the Po’, the Adriatic sea, the oceans…. We wanted to narrate its conditions in a natural way, trying to incisively reach new generations and get them to think. We decided to simply be ourselves.”

A big part of your journey took place via SUP. What role does the sport element play in understanding, protecting and promoting the waters?

M: “I come from the scuba diving world. Over time these passion have allowed me to show others what I see underwater…. So the sport has been a fundamental basis for being able to tell this kind of stories. If we do not live and experience firsthand something like the pollution of our seas and rivers, only words remain. And words, unfortunately, are not enough. Roberto and I are united by the desire to get our hands dirty and struggle to share relevant issues. We are two ordinary guys who want to learn from our experiences, hoping that they will also raise questions in those who follow and believe in our environmental vision.”

R: “Sport has been the medium that has given credibility to my environmental commitment. Surfing allows me to live inside the aquatic universe on a daily basis, so people find my point of view reliable. When you are symbiotic with the sea, you know what you are talking about. And it is impossible to think that everything is fine nowadays: seas, rivers and oceans are objectively in dramatic conditions. The sports background also gives you concreteness, pushes you to face challenges and share them with other people. I love the ideals that surround surfers – we are human beings who should always help the sea. And I’d like my commitment to convey this image. In addition, sport allows you to have different perspectives on your surroundings: during the trip I often thought that many abandoned or degraded areas could come back to life thanks to sports activities and projects. After all, if you really live a place, it’s quite logical that you want to protect it…”

What are the poster images and moments of “Io, Tevere”?

M: “They are contrasting images and moments. In a positive sense I would mention the Gole del Forello in Umbria, where we seemed to be lost in some pristine American wilderness. In a negative sense the center of Rome and the catastrophic scenery of the city’s river. I was particularly struck by this absurd contrast between the wonder of the capital and its watery dump.”

R: “At the beginning of the trip I filled my water bottle with water from the Tevere and drank it. It was perfect. In Rome, however, I was sick, the smell of the river was revolting, and there were mountains of garbage scattered everywhere. Pollution does not arise on its own, it’s a consequence, and these two antithetical images explain how humans are the cause of this degeneration.”


“We don’t realize how much we are actually part of this Planet.” Can we say that this is the key phrase and the main message you are sharing and will share at ONA?

M: “We often hear that human beings are guests of the sea and the Earth. But this is not true, it is a misconception, because it only fuels our detachment from Nature. So people struggle to understand that everything is connected and that every human action inevitably reflects on the environment. The health of the sea, for example, begins in the city. It is crucial to create a collective consciousness: we need to be aware of the importance of our behavior and we need to modulate our actions with the idea that they will impact the Planet, animals and ourselves. Projects like “Io, Tevere” want to communicate these concepts and recompose the rift between humanity and the environment – a process that must begin from the younger generations.”

R: “It doesn’t matter what kind of water we are talking about. It can be sweet or salty, hot or cold. The only fact is that the world is just one and currently its waters are suffering. In the memory of some older people, the Tevere was the equivalent of Miami Beach, a lived-in, populated and protected river. Now everything is different, and when you forget something, you don’t know what can happen to it…. This is why we decided to create a documentary made by young people for young people, this is why we are presenting the film in schools or at special events such as ONA. “Io, Tevere” is also a cue, Marco and I are thinking about some synergistic projects, but first we want to focus our energies on spreading this documentary and its messages.”

Behind the scenes of the Women’s World Cup

Goal Click allows us to explore the photographic and narrative perspectives of women’s football stars

Women’s football can be narrated by its protagonists, both photographically and editorially. ‘Women’s World Cup 2023’ is Goal Click’s special project, which allowed some stars of the current World Cup to tell us about their relationship with football, their national teammates and their respective life paths. From Australia and US Women’s National Team to South Korea and Switzerland, these athletes  and storytellers allow us to visit the backstage of their careers and lives, giving us never-before-seen analogue shots and meaningful thoughts. Flo Lloyd-Hughes, Special Projects Lead at Goal Click and sports broadcaster, journalist, creative and consultant specialising in football, introduces us to this international gallery of voices and images.

Why did you decide to put a camera in the hands of the World Cup protagonists?

“This is the third major women’s football tournament that Goal Click has curated an original storytelling series, following the 2019 Women’s World Cup and last year’s EUROS. One of the most important things about this project is showcasing the individual journeys to a major tournament. The landscape of women’s football is different depending on where a player is based, what club they play for and the national team they represent. Ahead of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, we really wanted to show the diversity in women’s football today. In this series, players from across the world tell the stories of their lives, communities, club seasons, and training camps preparing for the tournament. From Australia and the US Women’s National Team to South Korea and Switzerland, these players give a truly behind-the-scenes look into their football lives for club and country. All these players are playing at the same tournament but, in many respects, their paths to the World Cup could not be more different.”

What was the girls’ reaction to this documentary and art project?

“We are so lucky that our storytellers are really open, creative and engaged in the project. They want to tell their stories, share them with the fans, and the world, so that people can learn more about them and put a person alongside the athlete. Many of the players tell us that they particularly enjoy seeing what the other participants in the project (from other national teams) have created and also that their teammates often really love what they have captured and written about them. It is a very different type of intimate storytelling, and really strikes a chord with the wider elite women’s football community.”

Were you impressed by the photographic qualities and analog eyes of these athletes?

“We are always so impressed with the images the players manage to capture. Goal Click has a signature style based on the use of disposable analogue cameras, and this is key in helping to create raw and authentic behind-the-scenes images that only a player could capture. Each storyteller has given us a unique insight into their camp and World Cup preparations but also showcased what they and their teammates get up to off the pitch, to relax and have fun, so you can see a real range of human emotions. This gets to the heart of Goal Click’s ethos which is to inspire understanding of one another through football. Anyone that sees the images and reads the stories will feel better connected to each of the players, and their teammates, but also understand their culture, their community and their motivations.”

What testimonies struck you the most and which themes were the most relevant?

“As with every storyteller we work with, you realise that no two journeys are the same. The only common point in this series is that all the participants were competing at the Women’s World Cup. How they arrived at that point, both in terms of becoming an elite footballer and the conditions in which they were preparing personally and professionally, are totally different. If I had to pick a couple of examples, I would say Yazmeen Jamieson from Jamaica is one of my favourite stories. She spoke powerfully and honestly, about the setbacks she has experienced, the diversity in the Jamaica team and the long road the squad has been on to even qualify for the Women’s World Cup. In addition to her words, her images are fantastic and truly represent the Reggae Girlz spirit. Another powerful story was that of South Africa captain, Thembi Kgatlana. The Banyana Banyana’s taliswoman had been injured for the 11 months prior to the tournament and she talks about the challenges faced in her football journey, one that has seen her play in Portugal, Spain, China and the US. Her words were even more poignant when she revealed she had lost three family members while at the World Cup. From a pure photographic perspective, Naomi Girma from the USWNT, Rikke Sevecke from Denmark, and Kathellen from Brazil really took us deep inside their team camps. They created some beautiful and powerful photos, which were very different to anything else coming out of those team environments.”

How are you experiencing this World Cup after producing this project?

“The Goal Click team are all glued to their screens watching this tournament. A few of us are in Australia and attending matches so it has been great to see some of our storytellers in action! Having worked with the participants for several months there is no doubt we feel a deeper connection to their progress and performances. Naturally, we want them all to do well as individuals and their teams. Unfortunately, there can only be one winner of the tournament but, as their stories attest, they have all overcome challenges and adversity just to be playing in the biggest women’s sport event in history.”

You have pushed international football stars to become storytellers. How does this make you feel?

“We have a great sense of pride that so many players and Federations are willing to work with us. In fact, many have seen our previous projects and have proactively reached out to us to be involved. From our point of view, it is humbling to see all these players showcase their creativity with us and give them a platform to tell their story. Each major tournament provides us with another chance to showcase the value our storytelling approach can deliver, and, for the athletes, it is a chance to do something a little different and step behind the lens.”

How important is this kind of storytelling for the future of the sports universe and its athletes?

“It is really important that we empower players to tell their own stories and give them a voice in the football media landscape. We strongly believe in the power of first-person storytelling, whether you are a coach, grassroots player or elite international footballer. It is all about authenticity and providing unfiltered stories, told by the people living them. We live in a world where many voices are unheard, marginalised, and silenced. Goal Click is a counter to this culture providing a platform where people are able to shape their own narrative, through their eyes and voices.”

Here is a selection of shots and words from some of the protagonists of Goal Click’s project.

Naomi Girma, USWNT

“I am playing for my family and my community back home who have sacrificed a lot for me to be in this position. I am very grateful for all that they have done for me. I also play for young African-American and Ethiopian girls who can see themselves in me and be inspired by where I am.”

Kathellen Sousa Feitoza, Brazil

“I started playing football like most of the girls in Brazil, playing with boys in the street. There was not much opportunity to do what I loved doing, which is playing football. So I decided to leave my country in May 2014 and play in a junior college in New York. Football represents everything to me and my country: hope, faith, passion, fun. I grew up playing football in the street, it was a cheap way to have fun, it was my way to clear my mind.”

Yazmeen Jamieson, Jamaica

“Someone said to me recently ‘your road is long’. This means a lot to me because if you look at my journey, it has been anything but easy. I know for a fact that my road is still just beginning. From our different hair textures, skin complexions, shapes and sizes, the Reggae Girlz are a mosaic of representation and I think that is beautiful. The motto in Jamaica is “Out of Many, One People” and I believe that our Jamaican team definitely reflects that.”

Rikke Laentver Sevecke, Denmark

“My hope for women’s football in Denmark is that someday we do not have to force our players abroad to develop but that they can stay home and play professionally. It is an amazing journey and experience to live in other countries and learn about different cultures, but the hardest part is being away from family and friends.”

Charli Grant, Australia

“In Australian society football is now a platform to promote physical activity whilst also harvesting a safe place to build friendships. Women’s football has become a place for people to express themselves and feel confident in who they are.”

Luana Bühler, Switzerland

“Football means living the dream, for me and for many little girls out there. I am so proud and thankful to have the privilege to represent my country by doing what I love the most.”

Rebecka Blomqvist, Sweden

“I enjoy having [football] in my life and I try to take every opportunity to make the best of it when it comes to performance, but also to enjoy the times with teammates. Football means a lot to me. It is my job but also my passion, what I have dreamed about, and what I really want to do. For me, football is very, very important. It will all come to an end one day. I have heard people say that you really miss the changing room feeling and being around teammates and friends every day.”

Claudia Bunge, New Zealand

“Representing my country means playing for my teammates and my family, but also for other young Kiwi kids. Hopefully when people watch me play they see that I love it, and that inspires them to do the same with whatever they chose to do in life.”

For the entire series, visit Goal Click. 

Credits: Goal Click

Patrick Stangbye’s running perspectives

The virtuous visions of the Norwegian ultrarunner, Creative Director of ROA Hiking

“The ultra running perspectives are valuable. I run for these perspectives. Some are personal, some are about society and the world around us. When I run I focus on short-term goals, but I also reflect on life and work…. The beauty of this sport is that it allows you to continuously process thoughts and ideas. During my workouts I have time to refine concepts and projects: running on Sundays or every morning for a few hours is much more useful than being in front of the computer for a whole day, where you have to answer emails and constantly stress test. In general at this time of life I feel connected to the concept of essentialism: I think real quality is produced by the removal of distractions and ancillary information. And running is perfectly associated with this vision.”

The essentialism theorized by Patrick Stangbye is a personal philosophical doctrine; it is a melting pot of contemporary arts, aesthetic attention, ecological sensibility and pure running. Creative Director of ROA Hiking and ultra runner, the various interests of this multidisciplinary creative strategist are lines that converge and contaminate, turning into relevant athletic performances and projects that combine consciousness with innovation. The path of this Scandinavian mind seems to be a trajectory devoid of stasis and barriers that, today, after a long apprenticeship around mountains and showrooms throughout Europe, tends toward the future of running and its communication.

I grew up on the outskirts of Oslo, only a road separated me from the woods. Nature was my playground, I loved interacting with its elements. MTB bred my creativity, to freeride I would build obstacles and jumps, it felt like playing with a big LEGO set…. Then in winter everything became perfect for snowboarding. At the same time I was very connected to music, and this passion opened the doors of fashion to me wide. So many artists dressed specific brands, capable of determining a specific identity. I understood that fashion was not just opulence, so I educated myself by researching on the Internet, IG did not exist at the time, and I started working for a retail store when I was 16. After a short time I moved to Paris, where I studied and worked for a contemporary luxury store, and at 25 I decided to become a freelance professional. Along this maturation I encountered trail running. I was preparing for a marathon, and during training I realized that I preferred running in contact with nature. I had never seen myself as an endurance sports person, but I experienced the approach to trail running as a challenge and loved every second of that epiphany. I discovered the sport late, it is true, but I quickly realized that it was connected to the feelings and experiences of my childhood. Through trail running I met a community and some really interesting human beings, and it was also through contact with them that I laid the ideological foundation for my current work.”

Patrick Stangbye’s current work focuses on developing visions that start with the simple complexity of running to explore and define virtuous marketing. The simple complexity of a community that can speak as much in the singular as in the plural. The simple complexity of a community that needs real stories and examples, but also ideals and tangible goals, such as environmental sustainability. The simple complexity of a community that Patrick Stangbye has had the opportunity to study and assimilate in all its forms. From Norwegian mountain villages to Milanese asphalt. From high-altitude toil to metropolitan trends. For lurking here, at the intersection of culture and product, is the quest of this Norwegian creative.

I like to communicate for and with people whose sensibilities are close to mine. And in the running community I have found exactly this type of human being. It is not an elitist community. Although it’s still a sport dominated by white upper middle class, I feel it’s deeply evolving. When I started running, so many people could not feel part of this universe. I was a white male and never had this problem. Now fortunately the perception of running has changed and is continuing to change, anyone can be a runner, and more and more people understand the benefit of an active life. It is necessary for brands to have a narrative focused on substance, on true stories, and for their products to respect what is being communicated. ROA for example is not a sport brand, but a cultural brand, connected to the mountains and the relationship between nature and man: for me it is crucial to develop this concept and educate people about it. The new generations have realized that the excess of luxury has stopped being as desirable as before, the health of the people and planet are instead crucial topics, which have created a different mindset in those around us. I am no longer fascinated by what is not sustainable, and I think it is very important that ROA is also following this direction, focusing on circularity and environmental impact from both a communication and production perspective. I hope that brands can stop being harmful to the environment. It’s a utopian dream, but I’m sure it can come true with the creation of the right ecosystem in which competition between companies takes a back seat, leaving room for cooperation for the greater good.”

This creative wanderer, inspired by the attitude of iconic ultrarunners such as Anton Krupicka, divides tracks and reflections between wild Norwegian peaks, such as the fairy-tale Slogen, and the sublime alpine range, where he prepares future races over 100 kilometers or more. When talking about his mountain experiences, Patrick Stangbye often uses the word enrichment. An enrichment complementary to the urban one, developed in his second home of Milan, a city that allows the essentialism of this creative strategist to encompass magmatic vibes and inspirations, destined for the development of new, layered perspectives.

“I love mountain places, they allow me to meet local people and communities, capable of conveying both cultural notions and valuable technical guidance on shoes and equipment. However, I could not live only at high altitude, because the city gives me extremely important impulses. Art, music, fashion… For me everything is connected, everything is happening, and it is essential to see a certain exhibition or film, to eat in a certain place, and to meet people with a mindset rooted in the contemporary. In the mountains, the risk is to be isolated and miss out on a vast array of information. I am sure of one thing, though, I would be very happy if people started to have more comfort in their urban lives through ‘uncomfortable’ experiences in the mountains. My next experience will be a race in Switzerland in September; I am not training to win, I am training to do well and feel good. That, after all, is what I love to do.”