Art and Happiness: these are the feelings that every Brazilian fan feels when the subject "soccer" is brought up. On the world stage, Brazil's national team are five-time champions, the only country to participate in every edition of the World Cup, and the motherland of Pelé, the best soccer player in history (sorry Maradona). Locally, soccer is not only a sport but "an art"—an art that every child is taught almost as soon as they learn to walk. Whether it happens on a professional soccer field, in the countryside, in a favela on the hills above Rio de Janeiro, or on Ipanema beach, whether with the latest ball or a balled up sock, it's all the same. All over the country, all kinds of people can be found playing 'til the sun sets.

For Brazilians, the game of soccer goes far beyond the competition. The field is not only a territory for athletic achievement but also a stage for purely creative movements of the body. Players participate in order to show off their natural skill and to turn the soccer ball into an extension of their bodies. Such control and such movement is a permanent state of happiness. This is the same happiness that inhabits the country each year during Carnival, when the country's populace is out in the streets, shaking their bodies with joy. The Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini said that while the Europeans play soccer in prose, the Brazilians produce poetry. 

So, how have Brazilian photographers responded to their nation's art form? In honor of the 2014 World Cup, this exhibition shows dozens of views of the nation's pastime. From Pelé's iconic bicycle kick to a nun's friendly soccer match, these photographs demonstrate the extent of this country's love affair with their jogo bonito—the beautiful game.

—Carlos Carvalho


Curator bio: Carlos Carvalho was born in Brazil. He is a documentary photographer and director of 
FestFoto, the International Festival of Photography of Porto Alegre. He has also served as a portfolio reviewer in FotoFest Houston, FotoFest Paris, Encuentros Abiertos de Buenos Aires, and Fotograma in Uruguay.