Portraits are the byproduct of conflict. They offer an outline of the negotiation between competing agendas, not only between that of the artist and the sitter, but also between one’s internal idealized image, and the one that is culturally ascribed to us. Despite its seeming stability, the portrait is located at the uncomfortable midpoint between self and other, the accumulation of myriad forces that are impossible to represent. It is this ambiguity, these absent conditions, that lend portraiture its seduction.
The photographs of wresters in Cruiserweight function as heroic portraits. These young athletes are both vulnerable and proud, standing strong in their revealing clothes. I photograph the wrestlers right after their matches, their bodies elated from a win or downtrodden from a loss, but always physically spent. I want to photograph the dialectic that emerges between their young adolescent bodies and the personae of the feared competitor, between vulnerability and the desire to project an appearance of strength. The tight singlets create a general impression of androgyny; the girls look like boys, and the boys, with their bodily hair shaved, look a lot like the girls. The action photos are particularly interesting: they are all of female wresters, but the headgear hides their long hair, tricking most viewers into assuming they are male. My wrestlers attempt to project their most perfect selves through the lens: they yearn to show a physical ideal that will psyche out their opponents, revealing a sensuous, unsettling strength to my camera’s lens.