Australian photographer Dave Carswell has spent two years documenting the makeshift and DIY culture of basketball in the Philippines. His photographs have been collated into a monograph titled Dancing in the Shadows and an exhibition, that both launch this week.
The book documents the places and spaces in which basketball thrives, with the photographer guiding the viewer on a journey from urban centres to provincial spaces. “I was initially drawn to the physical structure of the hoop and the pragmatism of the Filipino people in the creation of basketball apparatus,” says Dave.
Dave has captured a national obsession that flourishes in spite of the fact the necessary equipment might not be freely available. Much like in the UK where jumpers act as goalposts for football-mad kids, the photos show a pragmatic and inventive approach to creating hoops with which to play. He shows us unconventional baskets and backboards fabricated from offcuts of wood, emblazoned with unofficial branding and occupying unexpected corners of the landscape.
“The Philippines is being urbanised at an alarming rate with a handful of wealthy families and oligarchs staking claim on public space. Gated communities, mega shopping malls and even park spaces are largely privately owned with restricted access and monitored behavior,” says the photographer. “The local basketball court stands as a staunch counterpoint to the privatisation of the land and remains firmly in the hands of the everyday Filipino, even if it’s very existence can be fleeting and constantly under threat.”
The Dancing in the Shadows exhibition and book launch is at Spare Store, Melbourne on 11 January.