Zidane – A 21st Century Portrait

Upon walking into the lecture theatre, I was completely confused as to why there was a football match being shown through the projector. Football seems completely un-relevant to photography. As time went on, I began to notice that the camera was focusing on one player in particular, Zinedine Zidane, one of the greatest footballers to ever play football.

The ‘work of art’ was created by video installation artists, Philippe Parreno and Douglas Gordon. The video is accompanied by 10 atmospheric tracks which coincide with the action which is happening. There are also subtitles throughout, which are quotes from Zidane on his career. They tell a story and give it significance. Without these words, we are left guessing what the video is about.


17 cameras placed around the pitch focus on the player for the whole 90 minutes of the match between Real Madrid and Villarreal. These cameras all followed Zidane, getting close and long shots of every move he made, from pulling up his socks, to laughing at a joke, and of course, his football skills.

Philip French says “This art work is hypnotic, self-indulgent and lacking in context, rather like doting parents at a nativity play concentrating on their daughter’s Mary or their son’s Joseph to the exclusion of the other performers and the Gospel message.” This quote shows how the video completely cuts out any other person and just focuses on the one star of it all.

After thinking about how the music, quotes and way the camera was used, I did see how this piece has been called a work of art. It is about far more than football, its about how Zidane is the best at his profession.




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