The streets of Berlin have been unusually rowdy these past few weeks, with the screams of belligerent football fans reverberating off every wall. As is customary in this country, a home team victory is ceremoniously followed by bleary-eyed Germans taking to the streets, in their cars no less, and driving around drunk while laying on the horn, waving flags out their windows and yelling nonsense at any pedestrian unfortunate enough to be on the sidewalk at this historic hour. It’s “a cultural experience,” albeit slightly disturbing and undoubtedly dangerous, but soccer is a religion over here and this is how the locals worship. After Germany’s victory over Turkey last Wednesday, in a match-up that hit quite close to home considering the continuing controversy surrounding Turkish immigration in Deutschland (and especially in the country’s capital), Berliners are gearing up for the final game on Sunday and even the art world has been invaded by football fanaticism.
DAAD Galerie is currently showing a video by Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno entitled Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, which follows the legendary French footballer’s every move with 17 cameras during a 2005 match against FC Villareal. The resulting portrait serves to further idolize Zinedine Zidane, a polarizing figure in the football world, whose final match- the 2006 World Cup championship game against Italy- will always be remembered for the notorious head-butting incident, in which Zidane attacked an opponent who had apparently disrespected his mother and/or sister, and was thrown out of the game. Depending on your perspective it was either staggeringly heroic or appallingly disgraceful.
Although there’s no head-butting in Gordon and Parreno’s piece, it is reminiscent of Paul Pfeiffer’s (Season 2) series The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, which captured professional basketball players in iconic poses, illuminated by the court’s glaring lights, their bodies glowing in artificial halos surrounded by legions of followers. Similarly, Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait depicts the soccer star from the eyes of a fanatic, elevating a mere mortal to the ranks of the Gods. Whether or not you agree that these players deserve their deification, the fact remains that come Sunday, the entire city will be praying for some kind of divine intervention on the soccer field. The losers will be sacrificed and the winners will be immortalized. Regardless of the outcome, stay away from cross walks once the final whistle blows. Schoenes Wochenende.