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These images not only describe a passion but become a tool to talk about dreams, tensions and the struggle of an entire generation.

Jury motivations

We grew up with soccer and the stadium. It goes beyond everything, religion too. At the stadium we are free.

In Algeria, soccer is everywhere. It is the favorite topic of a bored youth that does not recognize itself in the State nor in its institutions.

Getting by on odds jobs, youth manage to go on as they can; traditions are becoming radicalized. Young people are gripped by frustrations of a country where the right to protest is practically denied.

However, there is a place that escapes this fate. Once a week, the stadium becomes a place of passion and a way to release. But all this goes beyond the standard customs of sports fans. Together, these young people feel alive.

They sing about unemployment, poverty, the EU where they dream to move to. They defy the state and the generals, those responsible for pushing the country to the brink. They claim their belonging to their neighborhood, the real identity imprinted in the values that once liberated Algeria. Those values have now been betrayed by power, according to their point of view. At the stadium they can savor freedom.

If in past years power instrumentalized soccer to drive a wedge between people and politics, today it has lost control of the situation. As during colonisation times, the stadium is again a space of national strength and resistance. The Roman circus, as it was once conceived, is dead, making room for a Greek agora. The time of a match….

Reportage realised in Algeria between October 2014 and May 2016.

BIOGRAPHY

Romain Laurendeau works on long-term projects in Algiers, spending several months there per year, mainly living in working-class neighbourhoods. He makes friends easily and shares their living spaces, their leisure or work, their hardships as well as their good times. His photography uses manipulated greys and subdued blacks to reflect the social, economic and cultural realities of a youth that seems to be living in suspended time where the hope of a better future has not yet materialized.

 http://hanslucas.com/rlaurendeau/photo

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