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The Streets of Hungary and Brazil Illuminated by Football Stadium Floodlights

Hungary_Sopronyi-(17)

Hungary

Brazil_Sopronyi-(4)

Brazil

As soon as the stadium lights switch on, Hungarian photographer Gyula Sopronyi has exactly the duration of one football game—one and a half hours—to capture the surrounding landscapes, homes, and neighborhoods saturated in their neon glow. As the athletes play and the fans go wild, everything that lies adjacent to the field is transfigured entirely, surrendered like offerings to the gods of football.

After having worked at a leading Hungarian newspaper, Sopronyi had seen and documented his fair share of football (soccer, in America) matches, but with 90 Minutes, he eschewed the role of the sports journalist to touch on something more complex and elusive about football and the consequences of our undying devotion to the game.

When it comes to football, admits the photographer, emotions run high. The game has become inextricably tied with ideas of national pride, and yet with the millions allocated to the construction of new stadiums, public healthcare and education funds are left wanting. In capturing the neighboring areas drenched in the floodlights of the match, he poetically and quietly comments on the ways in which the construction of the stadiums have pushed people from their homes and communities.

With the help of The Robert Capa Photography Fellowship Prize Hungary, Sopronyi has expanded 90 Minutes to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he also saw large amounts of money being put towards football, leaving families living in the slums, or the favelas, with severely limited public education and medical care. The photographer is now looking for opportunities to expand the work to more countries through residencies.

With the increased awareness of the environmental consequences of using floodlights, Sopronyi recognizes that 90 Minutes is running out of time. When the lights aren’t absolutely necessary, they aren’t used, meaning that he can only shoot during very specific seasons and hours. Though they never feature a human soul, Sopronyi’s wistful images touch on the invisible threads of community, belonging, and dignity that emerge only beneath the glare of floodlights. 90 Minutes, for all the social statements it dares to make, doesn’t offer any easy answers; it’s neither a paean to nor a condemnation of football, but rather a deeply introspective look at what lies in the shadows, behind the gleaming facade of athletic splendor.

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Brazil

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Brazil

Hungary_Sopronyi-(1)

Hungary

Hungary_Sopronyi-(2)

Hungary

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Hungary

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Hungary

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Hungary

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Hungary

All images © Gyula Sopronyi

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