Imaging Conflict

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Boxing, Blue Horizon, Philadelphia #3-16
Boxing, Blue Horizon, Philadelphia #10-31/32
boxing, boxers, photography, photographs, photo, gelatin silver print, black and white photography, sport photography, boxing, empathy, boxer as subject, inside look at boxer's life, on the line, hand-held flash, high-contrast printing, inside the sport of boxing, in the boxing ring, desperation, emotion, American dream, irony, ironic commentary, optimism, antithesis,
description
start quoteThe pictures are taken in spirit of finding myself in the other, or finding the other in myself. They are taken in the spirit of empathy, emotional, physical, sensual empathy.end quote
-- Larry Fink (Under the Surface 2005)

The photos in Fink’s book Boxing – and those of the boxers shown here – provide an intimate, inside look at an activity usually regarded as spectacle. Fink’s ability to empathize with his subjects, combined with his use of a hand-held flash unit and high-contrast printing, provides us with a fresh and direct way of looking inside the “sport” of boxing, and the people who put their hopes and their lives on the line in the ring. Even though the second photo defies photographic convention – the subject’s eyes are unseen, shrouded by a hood - we get a sense of his desperation from the lack of emotion in his face, compounded by the grim face seen in the background. This is not the “authorized version” of the American Dream.

Fink provides further  ironicUsing the opposite to express what is really meant or expected. Irony can also be something absurd or laughable that occurs when what happens and what might be expected to happen are opposites.  commentary by including the phrase “Blue Horizon” in the photo titles, referring to the popular song, “Beyond the Blue Horizon” (lyrics by Harlan Howard and Hank Cochran), with its syrupy, optimistic chorus:

“I see a new horizon
My life has only begun
Beyond the blue horizon
Lies a rising sun.”

additional resources Things to Think About
Advanced Activity

How to create a gesture drawing

sketch

Online Activity
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Studio Activity
  • First study Larry Fink’s photographs.
  • Describe in writing or tell someone what you think is happening in each picture.
  • Collect newspaper and magazine images OR photograph a sport you like to watch.
  • Create a sequence of events in your photo essay.
  • How many of the gestures you drew express conflict in movement?

 

References

Stephen Cohen Gallery.  Under the Surface, Exhibition write-up.  Stephen Cohen Gallery, Los Angeles, California, 2005.

Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning