“Here you have it, Tamil Eelam is in the north of Sri Lanka, you see it looks like a mango!” (the player who drew the map of Tamil Eelam)
“Make it bigger, this is not right, Abkhazia is much bigger than that!” (A player of Abkhazia to the one who drew the map of their country, throwing the paper away right after)
CONIFA (Confederation Of Independent Football Associations) was founded on June 7, 2013, and its members are football teams representing unrecognized states, ethnic groups, islands and “frozen conflict” zones from all over the world. It organized the first World Football Cup in June 2014 in Ostersund, Sweden. Amongst the national football teams participating in the activities of the Confederation there are – for example – Iraqi Kurdistan, Tibet, Tamil Eelam, the Isle of Man. The reasons why these teams cannot participate in FIFA competitions are very diverse, as all of these countries have a completely different historical background as well as a different social reality. Nonetheless, they all have something in common: a strong desire to affirm their collective identity.
The political balance of power between governments has determined the official non-existence of these territories on a political and national level. By relating the different national teams, Conifa assumes their existence from a cultural and geographical point of view. This continuously generates hyperbolic, interesting and paradoxical situations, giving birth to a semi-serious, semi-professional and semi-official context.
During the championship, one finds himself living in an exceptional reality, neither true nor false, but absolutely verisimilar.
Law and official reality are not violated nor distorted, although we suddenly find ourselves living on another planet, on which these national and collective identities become visible and shared, accepted and valued by all the participants of the event.
For this reasons, beside the backstage story, we have chosen to photograph portraits of the players referring to the classic “Panini stickers style”, but then selecting the slightly “wrong” poses. In the aim to give value and “officialize” the “unrecognized” version of the standard photographic poses themselves. With the intention of exploring the imaginary border between what does officially “exists” and what doesn’t, using sports as our main narrative device.
This project is conceived and realised together with Manfredi Pantanella.