“Everything I know about morality and the obligations of men, I owe it to football.”
“The 90 minute dream” is a portrait project collaboration between artist Benjamin M. Betsalel and photographer Bastien Defives. Utilizing large-scale portraiture as a catalyst for dialogue, this series of ‘portrait happenings’ explores the experiences of 11 Senegalese football players and the human impact of the beautiful game. In exhibition, each portrait project participant is represented by three elements: short first-person narrative, large-scale portrait painting, and photograph of an object of importance from their lives.
This project has taken us into neighborhoods in and around Dakar, Senegal where football is an integral part of the community fabric. We have worked with a wide range of players – both young and old, famous and unknown – to both understand and share their stories, backgrounds, fears, hopes and dreams. In so doing, we have faced issues of inequality, migration, business ethics, human rights and the struggle for basic human dignity.
It’s staggering to imagine how many people share the dream of scoring a game-winning goal in the World Cup and signing for a top club in Europe. However, dreams are not only about glory, success, or greatness. They are also about the often lonely process of reaching, facing pressure, transcending contradictions, making sacrifices and learning from difficult life-changing decisions.
Like millions of young people around the world, my formative years were dedicated to playing football. Off of the field, I spent my time drawing and painting action scenes, stadiums and uniforms, and repeatedly watching VHS tapes of World Cup games. My father, a political science professor who didn’t approve much of my passion, would often tell me with resignation that Camus was a goalkeeper too. The experiences lived and lessons learned from that time in my life continue to influence my work as an artist: sharp focus, strong self belief, and sense of physical commitment. Attack the canvas, defend the idea!
Benjamin M. Betsalel
Dakar, Senegal, 2018
© 2014 Benjamin M. Betsalel – All rights reserved.