IMSOUANE

A winter trip in the Moroccan surf

The photos and words by photographer Niccolò Cozzi lead us to a land that is both far and near at the same time. They transport us to atypical beaches, populated every winter by European surfers in search of a paradise behind their home, in search of a place that, just a Mediterranean away, can allow them to ride the perfect wave.
Enjoy the reading.

Imsouane is an old fishing village located in the southern part of Morocco on the Atlantic coast.

In this place there is no history, there are no buildings to see, the beaches are not swarming with tourists. The only people present are men who spend their time fishing.

“Why come to Imsouane?”, I asked a surfer who was accompanying me. “I was here in the summer, but they told me that the waves are better in the winter”, he replied, “The ocean works better”.

Imsouane is one of the favorite Moroccan spots for European surfers during the winter season. Here very long waves are formed, reaching 800 meters in length and 6 meters in height.

Dozens of surfers every day cross the stones, litter and the buildings under construction with the table in hand, surrounded by stray dogs. They arrive at the port, dive into the sea among the fishing boats and wait.

With Europe’s low temperatures, many surfers move to nearby destinations: destinations with milder temperatures. This work aims to be a first step on a journey to discover the winter waves. Because surfing is not just a summer sport, it’s a non-stop necessity.

Credits

Photo & Text Niccolò Cozzi
IG @nic_cozzi


We are waiting

The endless waiting of a moment, the wonderful waiting for a ride. Reportage by Alberto Grasso

“It’s all a complex of things
Which makes me stop here”
– Paolo Conte

Hours of waiting. Hours spent trying to fill that moment that separates us from the arrival of the cyclists. Waiting and dreaming. ‘We are waiting’ is the photographic research of this specific moment.

The wait is hours of driving and hours of climbing to the top of the mountains. The wait is sleeping in the cold amidst the fog. Frost, sun and rain, it doesn’t matter.  Hours spent, close to each other, sharing the same cold and warming up under the same sun. By drinking the same wine and eating the same food.

All this for what?

Only for a few minutes. A few moments in which we try to relieve the fatigue of our heroes, to help them. A few minutes in which we share their desire for victory, their strength and their passion. You become one with them. A large entity that climbs mountains and cuts through the plains.

After the passage of our heroes, we silently prepare to come back home. We collect our things, clean and neatly go down the mountain or mend the plain. We are all calm, tired and happy: like after a ride. We all think that waiting made sense. We all feel it was worth it. 

Ascent to Colle dell’Agnello – Stage 19 Pinerolo – Risoul – 28 May 2016 – Stage won by Vincenzo Nibali

Colle della Lombarda – Stage 20 – Guillestre – Sant’Anna di Vinadio – 28 May 2016 – Stage won by Vincenzo Nibali

Ascent to Passo dello Stelvio – Stage 16 Rovetta – Bormio – 23 May 2017 – Stage won by Vincenzo Nibali

Ascent to Passo dello Stelvio – Stage 16 Rovetta – Bormio – 23 May 2017 – Stage won by Vincenzo Nibali

Ascent to Passo dello Stelvio – Stage 16 Rovetta – Bormio – 23 May 2017 – Stage won by Vincenzo Nibali

Colle delle Finestre – Stage 19 – Venaria Reale – Bardonecchia – 25 May 2018 – Stage won by Chris Froome

Ascent to Passo dello Stelvio – Stage 16 Rovetta – Bormio – 23 May 2017 – Stage won by Vincenzo Nibali

Ascent to Passo dello Stelvio – Stage 16 Rovetta – Bormio – 23 May 2017 – Stage won by Vincenzo Nibali

Colle delle Finestre – Stage 19 – Venaria Reale – Bardonecchia – 25 May 2018 – Stage won by Chris Froome

Ascent to Passo dello Stelvio – Stage 16 Rovetta – Bormio – 23 May 2017 – Stage won by Vincenzo Nibali

Ascent to Colle dell’Agnello – Stage 19 Pinerolo – Risoul – 28 May 2016 – Stage won by Vincenzo Nibali

Prato Nevoso – Stage 18 – Abbiategrasso – Prato Nevoso – 24 May 2018 – Stage won by Maximilian Schachmann

Colle delle Finestre – Stage 19 – Venaria Reale – Bardonecchia – 25 May 2018 – Stage won by Chris Froome

Ascent to Passo dello Stelvio – Stage 16 Rovetta – Bormio – 23 May 2017 – Stage won by Vincenzo Nibali

Prato Nevoso – Stage 18 – Abbiategrasso – Prato Nevoso – 24 May 2018 – Stage won by Maximilian Schachmann

Credits

Ph & text by Alberto Grasso

IG @alberto.grasso
albertograsso.com


Suzanne Lenglen secondo Henri Lartigue

Il rapporto tra l’inventore della fotografia sportiva e la ‘Divina’ del tennis

Ogni gioco implica il senso del limite. Oggettivamente, nello sport, limiti sono la regola e il campo. Il campo è l’isola di realtà dove valgono le regole del gioco. Il fotografo sportivo conosce bene questo tipo di demarcazione.

Relegato nella buca, al di qua del confine invalicabile dell’azione, sopporta, nascosto nell’ombra delle sue visiere e dei suoi gilet, l’impossibilità di avvalersi dell’aureo consiglio dei Robert Capa e Bruce Gilden: “Se non è buona, non eri abbastanza vicino”. L’unica vicinanza possibile per il fotografo sportivo è di tipo ottico, non fisico. È un’epica di cannoni bianchi, l’immagine dei teleobiettivi nella trincea del bordocampo.

Lartigue, che ha inventato la fotografia sportiva, sicuramente non aveva familiarità né con i confini, né con i teleobiettivi. È stato un pioniere dello scatto a mano libera, delle lenti rapide, dei primi apparecchi tascabili. La sua era una poetica della presenza, oltre che della vicinanza. Così dimostra il suo straordinario ritratto a Suzanne Lenglen, la ‘Divina’ del tennis.

Il segno nello spazio che astrattamente divide il gioco dal restante complesso di faccende relative alla vita umana, nel tennis è particolarmente marcato.La rappresentazione della linea, laterale e trasversale, ha un senso quasi escatologico. Nel finale di Match Point, l’esitazione della pallina che rimbalza sul filo della rete racchiude in sé il destino di un’intera esistenza.

Mai nessun confine ludico è stato misurato con tale ossessione tecnica come nel tennis. A cominciare dal numero di giudici presenti in campo: cinque per lato, oltre il giudice di rete – l’omino che sommessamente nasconde la testa dietro il paletto, prima che il giocatore serva, con due dita sul nastro per sentirne il minimo tocco – e il giudice di sedia che supervisiona dall’alto.

Ancora: la ritualità del controllo del segno sui campi di terra battuta, e l’occhio allo sbuffo di gesso bianco per le linee di polvere sull’erba di Wimbledon. L’introduzione della tecnologia ha amplificato gli effetti di questo tipo di gestione delle regole. Il sensore elettronico del let sostituisce il giudice di rete. L’uso della chiamata sonora, nella stagione bum bum dei Becker, Ivanisevic e Sampras, accorcia i tempi di reazione degli arbitri di linea.

Alla fine arriva il trionfo dell’Hawk-Eye, versione grafica del dilemma tra IN e OUT, esasperato a una precisione millimetrica: uno stratagemma diabolicamente rivoluzionario, che ascrive la serietà come unica prerogativa possibile dell’arbitraggio di una partita di tennis. “You Cannot Be Serious” diventa un ricordo dei nostalgici.

C’è, in questo sistema di “isolamento” del campo, una certa atmosfera del sacro. In effetti la delimitazione, antropologicamente parlando, è la primissima caratteristica di ogni azione sacra. Formalmente tale funzione di delimitazione è assolutamente una e identica per un fine sacro o per un puro gioco. Scrive Huizinga in Homo Ludens: «L’ippodromo, il campo di tennis, il pallottoliere, la scacchiera funzionalmente non si differenziano dal tempio o dal cerchio magico».

Il segno nello spazio che astrattamente divide il gioco dal restante complesso di faccende relative alla vita umana, nel tennis è particolarmente marcato.La rappresentazione della linea, laterale e trasversale, ha un senso quasi escatologico. Nel finale di Match Point, l’esitazione della pallina che rimbalza sul filo della rete racchiude in sé il destino di un’intera esistenza.

Mai nessun confine ludico è stato misurato con tale ossessione tecnica come nel tennis. A cominciare dal numero di giudici presenti in campo: cinque per lato, oltre il giudice di rete – l’omino che sommessamente nasconde la testa dietro il paletto, prima che il giocatore serva, con due dita sul nastro per sentirne il minimo tocco – e il giudice di sedia che supervisiona dall’alto.

Ancora: la ritualità del controllo del segno sui campi di terra battuta, e l’occhio allo sbuffo di gesso bianco per le linee di polvere sull’erba di Wimbledon. L’introduzione della tecnologia ha amplificato gli effetti di questo tipo di gestione delle regole. Il sensore elettronico del let sostituisce il giudice di rete. L’uso della chiamata sonora, nella stagione bum bum dei Becker, Ivanisevic e Sampras, accorcia i tempi di reazione degli arbitri di linea.

Alla fine arriva il trionfo dell’Hawk-Eye, versione grafica del dilemma tra IN e OUT, esasperato a una precisione millimetrica: uno stratagemma diabolicamente rivoluzionario, che ascrive la serietà come unica prerogativa possibile dell’arbitraggio di una partita di tennis. “You Cannot Be Serious” diventa un ricordo dei nostalgici.

C’è, in questo sistema di “isolamento” del campo, una certa atmosfera del sacro. In effetti la delimitazione, antropologicamente parlando, è la primissima caratteristica di ogni azione sacra. Formalmente tale funzione di delimitazione è assolutamente una e identica per un fine sacro o per un puro gioco. Scrive Huizinga in Homo Ludens: «L’ippodromo, il campo di tennis, il pallottoliere, la scacchiera funzionalmente non si differenziano dal tempio o dal cerchio magico».

Il qui e l’adesso, l’hic et nunc, è la chiave dell’opera di Lartigue. Attraverso questa dedizione assoluta, traduce dal passato, fino ad oggi, nella sua intatta purezza, la divina essenza atletica di Suzanne Lenglen.

Leggermente spostata a destra della linea centrale del rettangolo di battuta, Lenglen sta giocando la sua volata di rovescio, ad almeno un metro da terra, il corpo interamente proteso in avanti, la racchetta in netto anticipo che cerca la giusta posizione per il controllo dell’impatto. Ma non è certo la plasticità il messaggio di questa fotografia. Almeno, non solo. Lartigue è dentro il campo. La focale normale descrive un’ambientazione privata, con la palizzata sullo sfondo che chiaramente ci situa su un campo di allenamento. Lartigue assiste quasi con un piede sulla linea esterna del corridoio, come un compagno di doppio. Ha una prospettiva appena abbassata. Forse è seduto.

Come spiegano bene i podcast di Denis Curti sulla recente retrospettiva alla Casa dei tre Oci a Venezia, Lartigue soltanto in tarda età ha cominciato a lavorare su commissione, almeno dopo la sua mostra al MoMA del 1963, curata da Richard Avedon. La sua produzione è stata invece interamente destinata a 126 album di famiglia, divisi per annualità, dal 1900 al 1986, oggi donati al Ministero della Cultura francese e pubblicati gratuitamente online.

Lartigue è, a sua volta, uno sportivo. Come ogni sportivo, sa bene che, se il limite oggettivo del suo gioco sono il campo e la regola, il limite soggettivo sono il corpo e l’attrezzo. Non è possibile paragonare Laver a Federer, da un punto di vista della performance sportiva, per la differenza tecnica delle rispettive attrezzature. Il valore assoluto di un atleta non può dipendere dallo strumento che le contingenze temporali gli consentono di utilizzare. Il messaggio di un atleta che scavalca il tempo, la sua opera migliore, per dirla in termini artistici, è l’uso che fa del suo corpo.

La fotografia della volata di Lenglen racconta il combattimento dell’atleta con i limiti del suo corpo, e del corpo con i limiti dell’attrezzatura che la tecnologia della sua epoca gli fornisce. Sentiamo epidermicamente, attraverso la sensibilità di Lartigue, il genere di costrizione di una pesante gonna di stoffa sopra un paio di calze bianche.

Per capire meglio, la British Pathé dedica un film a Lenglen, intitolato ‘How I play Tennis – by Mlle. Suzanne Lenglen’. Un’analisi in movimento della sua tecnica di gioco. Nella sequenza di immagini al rallentatore, Suzanne danza. Il film è muto, ma sembra di sentire ugualmente il frullare delle suole sul terreno, come in un video di Federer, o di Laver.

Lenglen non è mai ferma. Si solleva sulle punte dei piedi. Molleggia sulle ginocchia. Carica incessantemente la propria forza dinamica, come un elastico, per colpire in anticipo la palla, dice correttamente la didascalia del film Pathé. Per liberarsi dei limiti della sua racchetta, dei suoi abiti, del suo corpo, dice la fotografia di Lartigue.

La cultura sportiva della Belle Epoque francese, in Pierre de Coubertin rinnova lo spirito della tradizione agonistica classica, attraverso la scoperta archeologica delle rovine di Olimpia, e in Georges Hébert trova l’attuatore tecnico del moderno concetto di educazione fisica civile, come strumento di emancipazione femminile.

È la generazione che prepara le basi della rivoluzione intima della liberazione del corpo, così come la celebra nei suoi romanzi Henri-Pierre Roché, da cui Truffaut trarrà il suo capolavoro ‘Jules e Jim’. Immersa in tutta la sua eleganza in questo fervido humus culturale, Suzanne Lenglen disegna per sé i suoi abiti. Accorcia le sue gonne, inventa lo stile del futuro.

Lartigue che la fotografa, ha capito che non sta volando per sé stessa, ma per ogni donna prima e dopo di lei. La sua è una metafora del volo, il suo mito, come il volo della crisalide fuori dal suo involucro protettivo. È questo che la rende divina. Un uomo come Lartigue non può che renderle omaggio, con il suo personale bouquet di fiori.

Ernesto Tedeschi


SkatePal, skateboarding as a social aid

The non-profit organization that in Palestine has transformed the table into a means of sharing and relief

At such a dramatic and turbulent time for the Palestinian people, we came into contact with SkatePal, a non-profit organization deeply committed to supporting this community through sport.

Keisha Finai 2019, Lara / Keisha Finai 2019, Ahmad

From 2013 to today, the projects carried out by SkatePal have reached hundreds of young people across the West Bank and have obtained support from all over the world. The primary objective of this organization is to improve the daily life of the young inhabitants of these critical territories, promoting the physical, psychological and pedagogical benefits of skateboarding.

SkatePal works with social realities heavily affected by the ongoing conflict. Over half of the Palestinian population in the occupied territories is under the age of 21, however, for many young people in the West Bank and Gaza, access to cultural, educational and sports facilities remain severely limited.

Keisha Finai 2019, Asira
Keisha Finai 2019, Ramallah

In this context, skateboarding has the potential to dissolve the barriers between classes, races, ages and sexes. Charlie Davis, founder of SkatePal, talks about it.

Where did this project come from? Why did you decide to bring skateboarding to Palestinian youth?

I was volunteering as an English teacher in Palestine after school and I had brought my skateboard with me. After classes I would skate around the town I was in, Jenin, and would always have a group of kids wanting to have a go. I didn’t end up skating much myself but there was no shortage of excited kids trying it out. The potential of skateboard was evident from that first trip, and after returning to the UK, getting a degree in Arabic and making several subsequent visits back to Palestine I started with a summer camp in 2013 to see how it would take off.

Charlie Davis, SkatePal

Skateboarding has always been a sport with a strong cultural/lifestyle soul. What does skateboarding mean to you? And what does it mean for the new generation of Palestinians?

I think the culture around skating various from one place to the next, and is less prescribed than I once thought. To me, the key element of skating is the people I have met through it, more than the music, clothes, lifestyle etc… Of course there continues to be the thrasher / counter-culture aspect of skating, which is what draws a lot of young people into it, but as skating becomes more mainstream, the dimensions of what it means to be a skater are growing. When you speak to local skaters in Palestine and what it means to them, it is much the same as for anyone else – it is fun! There are less opportunities for young people in Palestine, and especially in some of the smaller villages there, so I think having a skatepark is a great way for both Palestinian skaters and international skaters to meet one another and learn from each other.

Keisha Finai 2019, Malak and ollie
Emil Agerskov
John Barker 2019, Diana

Have you had support and solidarity from important worldwide skaters? And by Israeli people?

We have had a lot of support from many people around the world in various fields. Rick McCrank came out to film an episode of the Viceland series “Post Radical” in Palestine and it was great to meet him. We have had a few pro skaters come out to volunteer and of course our ambassadors – Chris Jones and Ryan Lay. There are Israeli skaters who have heard about the growing scene in Palestine and who are supportive of what we do as well.

How much is the Covid-19 affecting your project in this period?

We have had to pause our international volunteer program from March last year, and it looks like we won’t be able to get that going again until next year. It has been frustratingly slow, but we have been focusing on working with our local manager, Aram, so that when things can get going again we can get a running start. The kids are all still skating an the scene is still going strong, but we are eager fro things to get back to normal soon so we can head over again!

Keisha Finai 2019, Ramallah ramp
Keisha Finai 2019

By purchasing SkatePal products you can directly support their work in Palestine. SAHTEN – The SkatePal Cookbook – is one of the new purchasable products, don’t miss it!

Credits

SkatePal
skatepal.co.uk
IG @skate_pal

Keisha Finai
@keishafinai

Emil Agerskov
@ikenskid_fotograf

John Barker

 

Text by Giamarco Pacione


“Pop some manus”

Welcome to the Okahu Bay wharf, where kids and teenagers try to be birds

Thanks to the photos and testimony of Zico O’Neill, assisted by Naomi Perry, we discover an original New Zealand tradition, the tradition of ‘manu’: the perfect dive that, for generations, has marked the waters and minds of local teenagers. Good vision!

In Aotearoa New Zealand, heading to your nearest body of water to “pop some manus” is a quintessential summer pastime. For generations, all over the country, in the sweltering heat, kids and teenagers have congregated around bridges, jetties and wharfs with one mission: to create the biggest splash.

Manu means ‘bird’ in Māori (New Zealand’s native language). The objective is simple: jump from a height into the water and create as big a splash as possible. A manu is not a bomb or a cannon ball. To execute the perfect manu you must fold your body into a v-shape, then, as your bum hits the water, kick out your legs at the perfect moment to create the optimal splash. Technique is everything, and competition can be fierce. But when performed correctly, there is a beautiful elegance to the manoeuvre.

Throughout my childhood I visited my father in Nelson, spending endless summer days enviously watching older kids practicing their manus at local river spots. As a teenager in Tauranga, my friends and I would head straight to the water after school, all with the goal of popping the perfect manu.

Having spent the best part of the last 10 years overseas, my return to New Zealand saw me on a constant hunt to find a project that would both allow me to reconnect with my surroundings, and to explore and connect with Māori culture. I’d grown up with Māori heritage, but had always had questions about my identity and place within that culture.

When, two summers ago, I began visiting the wharf at Okahu Bay in Tāmaki Makaurau, and taking pictures of the revolving cast of kids who gathered there every sunny afternoon, I was struck by how much of myself I saw in them, and I realised I could use the manu (already so familiar to me) as a vehicle to begin connecting with and appreciating where I come from.

Okahu Bay wharf reminds me of the spots I hung out at when I was their age. It is a different time and a different place, but the excitement and camaraderie remain the same. A group of friends, gathering at the wharf on a sweltering hot day; to cool off, to holler and laugh, to spectate and size up the competition, and finally, hopefully, to execute the perfect manu.

Credits

 

Photos and text by Zico O’Neill-Rutene
zicooneillrutene.com
IG @zicooneillrutene

Text edited by Naomi Perry


Lucien Laurent, il primo gol Mondiale

Un operaio della Peugeot gonfiò la prima rete Mondiale. Dopo averlo fatto fu prigioniero di guerra e aprì una birreria

“Stavamo affrontando il Messico e nevicava, dato che nell’emisfero meridionale era inverno. Uno dei miei compagni crossò il pallone e io ne seguii con attenzione il movimento, colpendolo al volo di destro. Fummo tutti contenti, ma non esultammo, nessuno comprese che eravamo passati alla storia. Una veloce stretta di mano e proseguimmo l’incontro. Non ci fu neanche dato un compenso: all’epoca eravamo dilettanti a tutti gli effetti”

Esattamente quindici anni fa ci lasciava Lucien Laurent. Nato a Saint-Maur-des-Fossés nel 1907, era in pensione dal 1972, anno in cui lasciò la storica birreria che aveva preso in gestione nel dopoguerra.

Lucient Laurent, però, non era un pensionato qualunque, in lui si celava una figura storica, pioneristica per l’intero panorama calcistico: quel signore dell’Île-de-France era l’uomo che per primo riuscì a gonfiare la rete in una Coppa del Mondo.

Lo fece il 13 luglio 1930, all’Estadio Pocitos di Montevideo; lo fece nella prima storica edizione del grande ballo delle stelle internazionali del football, manifestazione intensamente voluta da Jules Rimet.

A Montevideo quel pomeriggio di luglio faceva freddo, un freddo pungente, l’attesa era spasmodica e alle ore 15.00 si diede inizio, contemporaneamente, a Francia-Messico e Stati Uniti-Belgio. Erano altri tempi, erano altre divise da gioco, era un altro calcio.

Al minuto 19 arrivò dal nulla un gesto tecnico apparentemente banale, un destro al volo che consegnò il vantaggio ai francesi. Ad esultare, più che altro, furono le migliaia di affascinati uruguaiani assiepati attorno al campo.

Laurent non si rese conto dello storico momento. Atteggiamento comprensibile per un uomo che, all’epoca, giocava come semiprofessionista nella massima serie francese.

Si era preso un permesso lavorativo di due mesi, Laurent, per essere presente a quell’esordio Mondiale. L’aveva chiesto alla sua azienda, la Peugeot.

Era passato al Sochaux proprio per questo, per ottenere un impiego connesso al calcio. I ‘Les Lionceaux’, difatti, erano stati fondati appena due anni prima da Jean-Pierre Peugeot stesso.

Insieme ai connazionali intraprese un viaggio epico su un piroscafo italiano, il Conte Verde: mezzo acquatico che salpò da Genova, ospitando le comitive rumena, francese e belga insieme ad altri normali passeggeri, a Jules Rimet e alla coppa stessa.

“Trascorremmo 15 giorni nel Conte Verde per raggiungere il Sud America. Gli esercizi di base li facevamo di sotto e ci allenavamo sulla coperta della nave. Il nostro allenatore non ci parlò mai di tattica…”, spiegò a distanza di anni Laurent stesso.

Laurent non si rese conto dello storico momento. Atteggiamento comprensibile per un uomo che, all’epoca, giocava come semiprofessionista nella massima serie francese.

Si era preso un permesso lavorativo di due mesi, Laurent, per essere presente a quell’esordio Mondiale. L’aveva chiesto alla sua azienda, la Peugeot.

Era passato al Sochaux proprio per questo, per ottenere un impiego connesso al calcio. I ‘Les Lionceaux’, difatti, erano stati fondati appena due anni prima da Jean-Pierre Peugeot stesso.

Insieme ai connazionali intraprese un viaggio epico su un piroscafo italiano, il Conte Verde: mezzo acquatico che salpò da Genova, ospitando le comitive rumena, francese e belga insieme ad altri normali passeggeri, a Jules Rimet e alla coppa stessa.

“Trascorremmo 15 giorni nel Conte Verde per raggiungere il Sud America. Gli esercizi di base li facevamo di sotto e ci allenavamo sulla coperta della nave. Il nostro allenatore non ci parlò mai di tattica…”, spiegò a distanza di anni Laurent stesso.

Dopo il 4-1 ai danni del ‘Tricolor’, i francesi poterono riposarsi per meno di 48 ore, trovandosi di fronte alla quotata argentina. Al termine di una partita controversa, i transalpini capitolarono, compromettendo il proseguo della competizione.

Jules Rimet, dopo oltre due settimane di partite, consegnò la Coppa ai padroni di casa, dando il via a una giornata di festa nazionale.

Lucien Laurent tornò in Francia al suo Sochaux, alla sua Peugeot.

Per lungo tempo non ebbe la piena consapevolezza del valore inestimabile del proprio gol: sigillo eterno e irreplicabile.

Il calcio per il centrocampista che, negli anni, si spostò anche a Parigi e Rennes, venne presto accantonato davanti al dramma bellico.

Laurent durante la II Guerra Mondiale visse, come ospite forzato dei tedeschi, quasi 3 anni e mezzo di prigionia in Sassonia.

Una volta liberato, tornò brevemente al calcio giocato, precisamente al Racing Besançon, dove occupò anche il ruolo di allenatore fino al 1950.

Lasciati i prati verdi si dedicò pienamente alla propria birreria. Solo l’inesorabile scorrere degli anni fece comprendere all’ex operaio della Peugeot la grandezza e il valore simbolico di quel destro al volo. Un istante di calcio inevitabilmente destinato a durare per sempre.

Redazione


野球, baseball in Osaka

In Japan, baseball diamonds are a pleasant obsession

Baseball came to Japan like a breath of wind, like a whispered word. A word first spoken by an American migrant, the educator Horace Wilson, and quickly transformed into 野球.

Baseball bats and diamonds invaded the prefectures of the Rising Sun from 1872, taking root in the national school system and creating what, today, turns out to be the most popular sport in the whole nation.

This pleasant sporting obsession takes shape in the pictures of Sam Benard. An obsession that, portrait after portrait, wears orange: the color of the uniforms of a youth team from the city of Osaka. Here, in Japan’s third metropolitan area, a dusty field is peered by rationalist architecture. Here, in the traditional commercial capital of the country, the whirling and organized daily confusion finds an oasis of peace between bases and home runs.

Credits

 

Sam Bénard

IG @sambenard
sambenard.com

April 29, 2021


Youth Speedway

‘It takes a special breed of kid to do this’. A journey into the world of youth motorcycling

Rarely has a bunch of kids ever been so important to the survival of their sport. In fact, it wouldn’t be a huge stretch to say motorcycle speedway’s very existence depends on these youngsters turning circles on shale.

Just seven years short of its centenary, British speedway is in the doldrums. If seeing the 2020 league season wiped out by Coronavirus wasn’t enough, an exodus of talent has left Britain’s league teams in the lurch.

The silver lining inside the thunder-black cloud: the British youth speedway championship, ready to supply young riders to fill teams, and fulfil their own dreams.

Speedway, for the uninitiated, is one of the craziest forms of motorcycle racing. Riders slow and steer brakeless machines by slamming the throttle open and forcing the back wheel to try and overtake the front. Whoever’s best at controlling the chaos wins. It’s like drifting a car, only a multitude of times more difficult and with no metal box to hide inside. When it goes wrong, it’s going to hurt.

Kids as young as eight hone their skills on 125cc machines before moving up to 250cc and then finally graduating to the same 500cc engines used by the professionals. Youth speedway championship organiser Neil Vatcher says: “It’s like a big school playground at a race. They all want to win on the track but they get on really well and all look after each other.”

Crashes are common. Thankfully, injuries beyond bumps and bruises are less so. Still, one of the early tests is how quickly they’re back in the saddle. “It takes a pretty special breed of kid to do it”, says Vatcher. “They’re all pretty tough, and they all bounce well”.

Of the 33 riders who raced past photographer Paul Calver’s lens at the Rye House track back in 2017, 13 have places for 2021 with either pro outfits or their feeder clubs. They’re all laying out a pathway for their young successors to follow. “It’s exciting as young riders can now see their dream of making it to being a professional speedway rider”, says Vatcher.

For more information on British youth speedway, younglionsspeedway.co.uk

Credits

Ph Paul Calver
paulcalver.cc
IG @calverphoto

Text Tony Hoare

April 23, 2021


Behind the Lights - Maxime Le Pihif

American football is also French in Maxime Le Pihif’s photography. A chat with the innovative transalpine photographer

Maxime Le Pihif’s photography is reasoned and instinctive. It’s like a play called by a quarterback in the heart of a huddle. It’s something produced by a rational inspiration, something that is constantly looking for a visual touchdown, for an emotional yard to conquer.

The main focus of the young French photographer is on one of the major American sports: the sport of the gigantic Domes, the sport of the sparkling SuperBowl. A particular focus, lived in the virgin land of Normandy: where kick-offs and field goals have only started a few years ago.

Maxime has begun a work of transmission and enhancement of this sporting novelty, he became the painter of a speciality that is finding more and more space in the Old Continent.

“One of my goals is to help the growth of American football in France and in Europe. When I was young I was a wide receiver and I left the fields to devote myself to the study of photography. I think it’s important to create a powerful imagery to bring young people closer to this sport: an atypical sport for our continent. In my country there are few ‘professional’ players. In the coming years I’m convinced that this situation will change, some youngsters have already crossed the Atlantic Ocean to play in the NCAA and soon we will see the first French player in the NFL”

Maxime’s encounter with the oval ball is also atypical: an adolescent epiphany that took shape during a transoceanic voyage. An flash of inspiration grown up on the western end of continental Europe.

“I came back from a United States trip with some NFL jerseys, since that moment I started watching the NFL on tv. In my Brest, a small town in Brittany, before the affection with football I was passionate about motors and sailing. Then I discovered this game and I fell in love with it. With the local youth team I traveled everywhere in Brittany: in the area at the time there were not many clubs. At the same time, when I was 15, I I asked my parents for a camera as a Christmas present and I began to combine these two passions”

A fruitful union. In a few years Maxime reaches the NFL elite, moving from the sidelines of the French provincial fields to the overcrowded American stadiums, then he comes back to immortalize the highest European levels.

“In 2017 I was lucky enough to follow the Detroit Lions alongside the official photographer Gavin Smith. It was the realization of a dream: a sort of photographic university. I had no particular responsibilities, so I lived that period peacefully: I could do what I wanted to do in beautiful contexts. Sometimes I stopped taking pictures and just listened to the noise and the sound of the fans. Back in France I traveled alongside my friend Pierre Courageaux, one of the best safety in Europe. I also joined him in Copenhagen, where he played for the Towers”

Maxime’s shots are animated by the idea of ​​innovation, by a curiosity for lights and movement: a research fueled by a huge passion for the artistic world, attracted by the intimacy of the gesture, of the ritual.

“I love taking pictures of people praying before a game, I like when they hold particular necklaces or symbols. I tend to use colors for individual photos, while for series I prefer monochrome: I think it’s easier for a spectator to identify them. I want my shots to create a reaction that differs from normal sports photography. The creative side is fundamental. It’s essential to focus not only on the technical gesture, but also on the locker room, on the little things that surround an athlete’s performance. I’m passionate of art in general: sculpture, paintings, installations, my work is probably contaminated by all this”

Intimacy, innovation and movement. A multifaceted paradigm that Maxime follows in his most disparate portraits: from Megan Rapinoe to Valentino Rossi, from Odell Beckham Junior to choral ice skating.

Portraits based on the examples of contemporary photographers particularly relevant to the artistic sensibility of the young Frenchman.

“I love Shawn Hubbard’s compositions: his technical cleanliness, the stories behind a single shot, the attention to details… I find all this also in the Lewis Hamilton portrayed by Vladimir Rys. I am struck by Andy Kenutis’ constant ability to find new angles, to play with colors. The Harry Kane photographed by David Ramos is something fantastic, I don’t know what technique he used, probably a double exposure. Ramos, like Eliot Blondet, also focuses on the outside of the sports world: they are photojournalists who are always in the right place at the right time”

Shawn Hubbard

Maxime, a full-time employee of a photo agency in the north of France, is also involved outside the world of American football. His work alternates scrimmage and special teams with athletics tracks and racecourses.

“I love all sports. When I plan a work in something that I know little about, I start looking at the shots of the best photographers in that field. Then I study the lights, which vary from gym to gym, from stadium to stadium. I try somehow to anticipate what I will find, but in the end it’s mostly about instinct”

Joseep Martinson
Andy Kenutis
Harry Kane by David Ramos
Eliot Blondet
Vladimir Rys

Still in the magical decade of his twenties, Maxime and his camera can afford to dream big: American dreams. Dreams of a definitive return to the promised land of American football.

“In the States they offered me a contract. I applied for a visa which, however, was denied. For the next few years I will keep covering sporting events here in France, but my American goal remains real and I will continue to apply for a visa”

Who knows, probably the first French NFL player will be joined by the first French photographer.

Credits

Ph Maxime LePihif

IG @maxjs7
maximelepihif.com

Text Gianmarco Pacione


Behind the Lights – Alexander Aguiar

Athletic divinities and niche sports, Anthony Joshua and Mexican bullfights. We take you into the world of a young photographic talent

Being able to make athletic divinities and niche sports coexist, being able to alternate commercial production and passion, without ever ignoring the concept of art for itself.

The young and intense story of Alexander Aguiar teaches that the apex of sports photography can be touched, lived and portrayed with conscience: in fact, it does not necessarily have to deteriorate personal ethics and artistic research.

The photographic selection sent to us by Alexander confirms these thoughts, showing us an atypical and varied work: shots in which Anthony Joshua, the contemporary warlord of the ring, and an anonymous jockey from South Florida alternate themselves. Shots in which the gaze of Stephen Curry, the Hermes of the NBA hardwoods, is linked to an unknown player of jai alai (an ancient Basque practice).

Jockey from South Florida

Extremes that coincide with each other, framed by a sense of intimacy; extremes marked by the perpetual investigation of the human being. A research that keeps the sporting side in the background: a stylistic figure of which Aguiar has consciously tried to build over the years.

“I think there’s a level of intimacy that connects a lot of my work. It’s something that’s usually easier to find in smaller sport settings, places like events where I have full access and can freely move in backstage areas like the locker room. At the same time, intimacy is something that I try to find with top-level athletes too; I always aim to establish some type of a personal relationship alongside the photographic one, and I make sure to leave sports fan tendencies aside. That part comes easier to me, and I find that it helps to treat celebrity athletes as normal people: as men, women, friends, and parents who are simply good at what they do. I think going into it with a level outlook helps me create a different kind of connection with them”

Intimacy, but also a taste for detail. Wait and understand the right moment to capture. In Alexander’s words, a photograph similar to sports takes shape: a profession made up of sacrifice and intuition. A disposition that comes from his past with a racket in hand.

“I grew up playing competitive tennis, and looked up to athletes like Roger Federer, Marat Safin, and Fabrice Santoro. In the summers I’d train 6-7 hours every day, but I never had a breakthrough. I invested a lot of time and work into it, but I got burnt out. And because of that, I’ve learned to behave al little differently with photography: I try to protect myself in it a bit more, and I treat it with greater care. I know that my root in sports helped instill a work ethic, a level of discipline, and a focus that helps me in photography today. It’s a relevant background, one that shaped my personality and, consequently, my modus operandi”

Rafael Nadal

The years spent in the Under Armor universe were instrumental in shaping Alexander’s professionalism. A magical period, which allowed the still twenty-year-old to rapidly mature a brilliant photographic career.

A bond that began almost by chance on the Maryland campus and which, in a short time, leads him to immortalize giants of global sport, to penetrate the narrow and brilliant lives of Tom Brady, Michael Phelps, Joel Embiid, Stephen Curry and, above all, Anthony Joshua.

Alexander spends a long period of closeness with the British phenomenon of boxe. A two-year time window in which the young photographer’s attention had to focus on his own moral integrity, on not being overwhelmed by the tsunami of popularity, as well as on capturing the perfect fight moment.

“Being around AJ is great. He’s incredibly genuine, and doesn’t seem affected by money or success. I’ve been fortunate enough to be with him for ring walks and on private jets, and I’ve seen fans from all over the world cheering him on. I think it would be easy for me to lose focus if I were an athlete at that level, and I do think being around fame can affect people as unattached to the success as I am. I always try to remember that I’m not what any of the fanfare is about, and I think as a photographer you have to be humble about your role. There’s a risk in thinking that you’ve earned any of the success that you’re photographing, and it’s important to realize you aren’t the leading actor”

Stephen Curry

Undersize yourself to somehow raise the pathos of your photographic work. Undersize yourself to respectfully merge with the moment that could change an entire sporting era. This seems to be the underlying meaning of Alexander’s words.

“I think the most rewarding part of being in contact with celebrity athletes is that there’s always the opportunity for an iconic moment. Before photographing events like AJ’s match with Klitschko, I remind myself that it’s my responsibility to be as good of a photographer as AJ is a boxer. I’ve reminded myself of that while photographing Michael Phelps in the pool and while photographing Tom Brady on a tour of Asia, and it helps keep me grounded and appreciative of the role I play”

It could become normal to abandon your photographic research to devote yourself to commercial work. An almost obvious choice, which Alexander has always rejected, pursuing his own visual and cultural curiosity.

“With commercial work you typically have less creative freedom, so there should always be a balance between professional work and personal work. For example, I always try to shoot the Miami Hurricanes football team when I can. I grew up watching that team play, and photographing their practices and games allows me to get back in touch with some of those emotions I had as a kid. I keep some unpaid work like that in the mix and it helps me to occasionally photograph things simply for pleasure. An example of this is when I shot some personal work of sumo in Japan while there on a work trip, and the concept behind those images eventually snowballed into an opportunity to shoot Tom Brady at a sumo practice a year or two later. I think this is the best of both worlds: the chance to bring personal and paid work together, and creating an opportunity between them”

Florida Panthers hockey player

For Alexander this connection does not seem to dwell on the technical gesture or on the simple portrait: concepts theorized by his historical reference points. Eyes, those selected by the talented American, who have imprinted stories and sensations in their films, giving life to snapshots capable of going beyond the present, the tangible, from the sport itself.

“I chose Robert Capa for his unique depiction of the Tour de France. He’s a war photographer and I think that helped him approach the Tour in a different way. He didn’t photograph the cyclists or what everyone else picks up on. Instead, he got more abstract and exploresd other options, and that’s something I like to do when shooting personal work. The same goes for Harry Gruyaert’s shot, which shows a bizarre, surreal moment of the 1982 Tour. I ended up spending two weeks in France with my mom to shoot the Tour after being inspired by the photography I saw from it. When it comes to Walter Iooss Jr., his legacy needs no introduction. He’s photographed all the sports legends of the last fifty years, and I think all photographers would love to make work that lives on like his will. He has iconic work with Michael Jordan and countless others, but here I chose a portrait from him with Dave Parker smoking in the dugout. With Muhammad Ali work I see the same theme of iconic moments”

Tour de France – 1939 by Robert Capa
Tour de France – 1939 by Robert Capa
Tour de France – 1982 by Harry Gruyaert
Dave Parker by Walter Iooss Jr
Muhammad Ali – 1976 by Dan Dry

And embellishing the unknown is Alexander Aguiar’s next goal: an exotic unknown, which goes beyond the major American sports, which manifests itself in a sports universe yet to be discovered, yet to be explored.

“After this pandemic stalemate is over, I’d like to start traveling again and shooting more niche sports. I enjoy investigating different cultures that way, like how I shot a Mexican bullfighting match a few years back. I like feeling confused in foreign and fascinating places”

Jai alai player

Credits

Alexander Aguiar

IG @alexevanaguiar
alexevanaguiar.com