Can't Smile Without You: Tottenham Hotspur fans

Martin Andersen: Can’t Smile Without You

Photographer and life-long Tottenham Hotspur fan, Martin Andersen has turned his camera on his fellow fans to create Can’t Smile Without You.

Taken between 2013 and 2017, this is an intimate and often visceral collection of photographs.

It captures a time of rapidly changing culture ahead of the team’s last game at the White Hart Lane stadium.

Can't Smile Without You; fans in the stands
Queens Park Rangers – Tottenham Hotspur (1-2), March 7, 2015 © Martin Andersen

Drama and tensions

The images were selected and edited from more than 100 different games.

Through them, Andersen presents an authentic and unflinching documentation of the fans and their resultant relationships and community.

His imagery depicts the drama, tensions, and raw emotions involved in such unwavering support of a football team.

A support that infiltrates every part of life.

Can't Smile Without You: A boy looks through a fence
West Ham United – Tottenham Hotspur (0-1), Aug 16, 2014 © Martin Andersen

Fascinating and frightening

Capturing a unique moment in Tottenham Hotspur’s history, the monochrome images in Can’t Smile Without You have a timeless quality that transcends the era they were taken in.

These could be images of any die-hard football fans and their associated rituals.

The 90-minute football game itself is only a small fraction of what it is to be a fan.

In response to this, Andersen’s focus lies mainly on the action taking place outside of the stadium.

Yet his powerful and graphic images never provide an answer as to how these actions conclude.

As Joe Kerr writes in his foreword: “I’m both fascinated and frightened by what these images imply, just as I was as a child by pictures of ships in a storm, and I’m just as happy now as then not to know what happens next.”

Liverpool – Tottenham Hotspur (2-0), Feb 11, 2017 © Martin Andersen

Can’t Smile Without You

In addition to the 119 photographs that were edited and graded by acclaimed photographer Kim Thue, Can’t Smile Without You features texts by lifelong fans Felix Petty, editor at i-D Magazine, and Joe Kerr, a writer and bus driver at Tottenham Garage.

A selection of images is on show at Pocko, London, until April 3 and SoShiro, London, until March 22.

A private view and book signing will take place at SoShiro from 6pm-9pm on Thursday, March 12.

Spectrum Photographic printed and mounted both exhibitions.

The Can’t Smile Without You photo book is available to order here.

Main image: Tottenham Hotspur – Liverpool (0-3), Aug 31, 2014

Can't Smile Without You: Fans at the Chelsea Tottenham game
Chelsea – Tottenham Hotspur (3-0), Dec 3, 2014 © Martin Andersen

Recent blogs

Must-see exhibitions in March 2020

Juvenile Jazz Bands Kickstarter

Hahnemühle Natural Line

Emilie Lauriola on life at LE BAL

Can't Smile Without You – a football fan looks directly into the camera
Stoke City – Tottenham Hotspur (3-0), May 9, 2015 ©Martin Andersen