Nackig auf dem Fußballplatz

Göttingen: Steidl. 2003.

First edition. Signed. 203 by 274mm. pp [182]. 83 b&w, 9 colour plates. Front cover illustrated with black and white photograph of Teller's father's grave with a football next to it. Title and author embossed in gold on front cover. Back cover illustrated with a colour photograph of Teller and Pele and a football. Spine is white with author, title and publisher's name printed in black. Most of the images here are stills taken from a film Teller made of himself watching the 2002 World Cup Final (which Germany lost 2-0 to Brazil). The colour photographs are naked self-portraits, images of his family, of David and Victoria Beckham, Charlotte Rampling, and Pele. The book is signed by Teller and is in fine condition.

Looking at the images in this book reminds us of Bill Shankley’s comment that football isn’t a matter of life and death. It is more important than that. Death, in the form of Teller’s father’s grave is the cover image. The first photograph in the book shows Teller, standing naked in front of the grave, cigarette in hand, drinking from a bottle of beer and resting his left foot on a football. Teller’s father was an aggressive alcoholic who committed suicide at the age of 47. Teller and his father were not speaking at that point. The pictures which make up most of the book show Teller’s array of facial emotions while watching the World Cup Final. A mixture of agony and ecstasy (but mostly agony), these pictures seem to show all five stage of grief from denial to acceptance. Among the colour photographs is one of Charlotte Rampling pretending to keep goal. In another picture, Teller’s mother adopts a similar goalkeeping pose in front of her husband’s grave. Football and death are never far apart in this collection.