29 June – 19 August 2012
Opening reception: 29 June at 6 PM
Meeting with the artist/lecture "92 Stadiums, a photographic journey": 29 June at 7 PM
Curator: Anna Szynwelska
The exhibition consists of 92 classic black & white photographs presenting English football arenas – from huge architectonic blocks of Premiership arenas to less capacious stadiums of League Two. During a two-year period Olley travelled the country on his 250cc motorcycle, using a Leica camera to capture the pictures. As a result, he created a unique series of photographs presenting the typology of contemporary British football stadiums. 

Aside from being a real treat for football fans, the exhibition is a great example of the classical art of documentary photography – both on artistic and technical levels. Olley’s scrupulous documentation, at first glance appearing devoid of reflection and devoted purely to recording the present-day state of objects serving the same public function, evokes the approach of an ethnographer. Both in terms of his attitude to the portrayed buildings and aesthetically, “92 Stadiums” was clearly influenced by the works of Bernd and Hilla Becher, referring in particular to their project “Typologies of Industrial Buildings”. Olley’s inspirations also came from photography of Walker Evans, who documented the state of agricultural areas touched both by the Dust Bowl recession and the Great Depression under the American government projects Resettlement Administration and Farm Security Administration. His works presented deserted buildings, depopulated towns and empty streets of the cities suffering from mass migration. “92 Stadiums” present football arenas in a similar way – during their off-match time, without thousands of fans, sometimes appearing as if they were some kind of ghost objects. Coinciding with the Euro 2012 tournament and all the controversy surrounding the building of those biggest-ever arenas, Olley’s exhibition provokes reflection on what will happen to them in a few years’ time. Will they be full of life and hold numerous events or will they end up as objects from Kobas Laksa’s artistic project “The Afterlife of Buildings”, serving completely different purposes from those they had been invented for?

On 29 June at 7 PM we’ll also be holding a meeting with Chris Olley entitled "92 Stadiums, a photographic journey". The artist will give a lecture on the history and social dimension of documentary photography and will talk about the creative process behind his “92 Stadiums” project.

Chris Olley – artist of many skills. He has written for numerous fanzines and also had his photographs, mainly black & white portraits of musicians,  published in “The Melody Maker” magazine. His pictures of Bill Hicks were recently used in a film about the legendary comedian and his pictures of John Cooper Clarke are also being used in a film about him by the BBC. He has also self-published a photographic book called “92 Stadiums” and done various commissioned work for magazines concerning football stadiums. He has done many lectures, seminars and workshops on University and College Diploma and BA(hons) courses around the UK.

Chris Olley is also an experienced musician and producer who has written and co-written, arranged and produced at least 11 full-length albums and had released 2 hit singles and one hit album. He has also produced 3 albums for Julian Cope and various projects for other artists. As a leader of alternative rock band Seven he released seven studio albums, played five John Peel sessions and performed on BBC’s “Later With Jools Holland”.

A fan of London’s West Ham United.

Partner of the exhibition: BRITISH COUNCIL

Municipal Institution of Culture